Nutritional and functional characterization of wild and cultivated Sarcocornia neei grown in Chile
Sarcocornia neei is a halophyte that grows on the coast of the Valparaiso Region of Chile. Studies related to its nutritional and functional value under wild and cultivated conditions are not available. Thus, in this study, a nutritional (complete proximal, mineral and dietary fiber analysis) and functional characterization (total phenolics, β-carotene, hydrophilic and lipophilic antioxidant activity (HAA and LAA) and ascorbic acid) were performed for wild and cultivated plants. Wild plants displayed higher amounts of compounds involved in stress defense mechanisms such as total phenolics, proteins, dietary fiber and ash. The mineral analysis revealed that Na+ and Cl- are the main ions accumulated in wild and cultivated Sarcocornia neei that are present in significantly higher amounts in the cultivated plants. The functional characterization revealed higher amounts of dietary fiber, total phenolics and HAA in wild plants than in cultivated plants. Similar contents of β-carotene, LAA and ascorbic acid were found for wild and cultivated plants. The results from this study provide information on the potential of Sarcocornia neei to be consumed as a leafy green vegetable with important amounts of main nutrients and functional metabolites.