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Characterization of inulin, a prebiotic fiber sourced from okra (Abelmoschus esculentus L.) pod and its quality compared to chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) inulin

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Industrial demand for commercial inulin, a fructan type of polysaccharide and prebiotic fiber from Chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) root continues to outstrip supply. Possible alternative source to mitigate this challenge such as Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus L.) pod remains neglected and unexplored owing to dearth of scientific data. The objective of this study therefore is to extract, analyze and make comparative quality assessment of inulin from these two sources (okra pods and chicory roots). Inulin was extracted from sundried and oven-dried okra pods by differential precipitation with ethanol (0–20, 20–40, 40–60, 60–80 and 80–100%) from the aqueous extracts of sundried and oven-dried okra pods. The inulin samples isolated were characterized and its quality attributes compared with that of commercial chicory inulin. Results obtained showed that the okra pod had an inulin content of 11.59 g/dry matter, purity (95.00–96.05%) and degree of polymerization (DP) (15.04–15.50). These compared favorably with other quality parameters of chicory inulin such as percentage purity (97.01) and DP (17.55). Comparatively, the quality of inulin from these two sources (okra pods and chicory roots) is not significantly different (P ≤ 0.05). Also, parameters such as pH (5.95–5.96); titratable acidity (0.12–0.4%); moisture content (5.07–6.05%); water activity (0.51–0.57); melting point (177.57–179.10 °C); solubility (24.07–24.57 g/l) and molecular weight (2627–2630) of sundried and oven-dried okra pods inulin samples fall within specification sought by its industrial users. Indeed, commercial inulin sourced from chicory may well be substituted by those from okra pod, currently under exploited.

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The authors hereby acknowledges the staff and students of the Department of Food Technology, University of Ibadan for their technical support.

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Correspondence to Uchenna Cyprian Umeonuorah.

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Umeonuorah, U.C., Arueya, G.L. Characterization of inulin, a prebiotic fiber sourced from okra (Abelmoschus esculentus L.) pod and its quality compared to chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) inulin. Food Measure 16, 4364–4371 (2022).

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