To compare the β-carotene contents in different Chinese sweet potato (SP) varieties and to choose a variety of SP rich in β-carotene for the study of the effect of processing methods on β-carotene retention, β-carotene in thirteen varieties of sweet potato from China was measured by HPLC. The results showed that β-carotene contents were significantly correlated with SP flesh colours, with the orange-red fleshed SP varieties being higher in β-carotene.
β-carotene contents in SP were affected by many factors, and this was demonstrated using the variety of Yanshu No.5, showing that the β-carotene contents in SP grown in different farming sites in the same area ranged from 53.2 to 84.3 mg/kg fresh weight. Moreover, β-carotene distributes unevenly in one SP root, with highest concentrations in the core. The β-carotene content was positively related to the root size.
Five processing methods including boiling, steaming, microwave cooking, frying, and post steam-drying were simulated in the study to check their effects on the true retention of β-carotene in SP. Compared to boiling, steaming resulted in much more loss of β-carotene and microwave cooking resulted in the biggest loss of β-carotene among the five processing methods.
Orange-fleshed sweet potato can be prepared for sale and consumption, using methods that protect the β-carotene content. This can aid in promoting sweet potato as a staple food as well as a snack food for supplying vitamin A for both rural and urban populations. Prepared orange-fleshed sweet potato can contribute to alleviating vitamin A deficiency in China as well as other low-income countries.
Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies (2008) 9 (4) 581-586 [doi: 10.1016/j.ifset.2008.06.002]