Flaxseed accumulates in its seedcoat a macromolecular complex composed of lignan (secoisolariciresinol diglucoside, SDG), flavonol (herbacetin diglucoside, HDG) and hydroxycinnamic acids (p-couramic, caffeic and ferulic acid glucosides). Their antioxidant and/or cancer chemopreventive properties support their interest in human health and therefore, the demand for their extraction. In the present study, ultrasound-assisted extraction (UAE) of flaxseed phenolic compounds was investigated. Scanning Electron Microscopy imaging and histochemical analysis revealed the deep alteration of the seedcoat ultrastructure and the release of the mucilage following ultrasound treatment. Therefore, this method was found to be very efficient for the reduction of mucilage entrapment of flaxseed phenolics. The optimal conditions for UAE phenolic compounds extraction from flaxseeds were found to be: water as solvent supplemented with 0.2N of sodium hydroxide for alkaline hydrolysis of the SDG-HMG complex, an extraction time of 60 min at a temperature of 25°C and an ultrasound frequency of 30 kHz. Under these optimized and validated conditions, highest yields of SDG, HDG and hydroxycinnamic acid glucosides were detected in comparison to other published methods. Therefore, the procedure presented herein is a valuable method for efficient extraction and quantification of the main flaxseed phenolics. Moreover, this UAE is of particular interest within the context of green chemistry in terms of reducing energy consumption and valuation of flaxseed cakes as by-products resulting from the production of flax oil.
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