Emulsification of algal oil with soy lecithin improved DHA bioaccessibility but did not change overall in vitro digestibility
Oil emulsification facilitates digestive lipolysis and subsequent lipid bioaccessibility. This study aimed to understand the effects of emulsification on DHA-rich algal oil digestion and bioaccessibility. An oil/water emulsion (50 : 44 : 6 oil–water–soy lecithin) was subjected to an in vitro digestion model with gastric pH 1.6 or 4.0 and particle size distributions, duodenal stage lipolysis and DHA bioaccessibility were determined. The emulsion was destabilized at gastric pH 1.6, with subsequent slow duodenal lipolysis. With gastric pH 4.0, the emulsion structure remained intact, initial lipolysis proceeded rapidly and DHA bioaccessibility was higher than for bulk oil, a mixture of oil, water and soy lecithin, and the gastric pH 1.6 destabilized emulsion (p < 0.05). However, the extent of lipolysis was not affected by emulsification or gastric pH. Therefore, the presence of an intact emulsion at the start of duodenal digestion, while not impacting the extent of lipolysis, did impact the initial lipolysis and DHA bioaccessibility.