Bioaccessibility of polyphenols and antioxidant capacity of fresh or minimally processed modern or traditional lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) varieties

  • Tomás Lafarga
  • Silvia Villaró
  • Ana Rivera
  • Gloria Bobo
  • Ingrid Aguiló-AguayoEmail author
Original Article


Modern city lifestyle is characterized by an increased demand for fresh or minimally processed foods. Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.), mainly iceberg lettuce, is the main vegetable used during the manufacture of fresh-cut salads. The current study evaluated the phenolic content and antioxidant activity of ten fresh and minimally processed lettuce varieties. The phenolic content of selected lettuce samples varied significantly among varieties. Although a higher phenolic content was observed in modern lettuce varieties, when compared to the traditional ones (except for the landrace Francès 219/855), the antioxidant capacity of modern and traditional lettuce varieties was similar. Minimal processing followed by storage for a 7-day period led to an increased phenolic content in varieties Rutilaï RZ, Abago RZ, Maravilla LS044, Francès 219/855, Negre borratger 386/935, and D’hivern LS008, supporting the hypothesis that wounding can induce the accumulation of phenolic compounds in lettuce leaves. For example, the total phenolic content of Francès 219/855 after processing and storage increased from 8.3 to 11.3 mg/100 g (p < 0.05). Accumulation of phenolic compounds after minimal processing was not observed in all the studied samples, suggesting that this effect could be matrix-dependant. The amount of bioaccessible polyphenols was higher after minimal processing and storage. Indeed, the amount of bioaccessible polyphenols after a simulated gastrointestinal digestion of fresh or minimally processed Pelikan lettuce was calculated as 32.6 or 43.3 mg/100 g respectively (p < 0.05), suggesting that the increased amount of polyphenols caused by processing and storage can also lead to a higher amount of bioaccessible phenolic compounds.


Lettuce Lactuca sativa Antioxidant activity Minimal processing Bioaccessibility Polyphenols 



Total phenolic content


Tris(2-carboxyethyl)phosphine hydrochloride


Folin–Ciocalteu’s reagent


Ferric reducing antioxidant power


International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants



The CERCA Programme of Generalitat de Catalunya and the Rural Development Programme of Catalonia (01.02.01 Technology Transfer) supported this study. T. Lafarga and I. Aguiló-Aguayo thank the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry, and Competitiveness for the Juan de la Cierva (FJCI-2016-29541) and the Ramon y Cajal (RYC-2016-19949) contracts, respectively.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declared that they have no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Association of Food Scientists & Technologists (India) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Postharvest ProgrammeInstitute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA)LleidaSpain
  2. 2.Fundació Miquel AgustíCastelldefelsSpain

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