Depletion flocculation is a well-known instability mechanism that can occur in oil-in-water emulsions when the concentration of non-adsorbed polysaccharide exceeds a certain level. This critical flocculation concentration depends on the molecular characteristics of the polysaccharide molecules, such as their molecular weight and hydrodynamic radius. In this study, a range of analytical methods (dynamic shear rheology, optical microscopy, and static light-scattering) were used to investigate the interaction between lipid droplets and polysaccharides (guar gum and β-glucans) of varying weight-average molecular weight and hydrodynamic radius, and concentration. The aim of this work was to see if the health benefits of soluble fibers like β-glucans could be explained by their influence on the structure and digestibility of lipid emulsions. The apparent viscosity of the emulsions increased with increasing polysaccharide concentration, molecular weight, and hydrodynamic radius. Droplet flocculation was observed in the emulsions only at certain polysaccharide concentrations, which was attributed to a depletion effect. In addition, the water-soluble components in oat flakes, flour, and bran were extracted using aqueous solutions, to examine their impact on emulsion stability and properties. Then, the rate and extent of lipolysis of a sunflower oil-in-water emulsion in the presence of these oat extracts were monitored using the pH-stat method. However, the inhibition of lipolysis was not linearly related to the viscosity of the oat solutions. The water-soluble extracts of β-glucan collected from oat flakes had a significant inhibitory effect on lipolysis. The results of this study increase our understanding of the possible mechanisms influencing the impact of oat constituents on lipid digestion. This work also highlights the importance of considering the molecular properties of polysaccharides, and not just their impact on solution viscosity.
- Oat β-glucan
- Molecular weight