Complete digestion of edible bird's nest releases free N-acetylneuraminic acid and small peptides: an efficient method to improve functional properties†
Edible bird's nest (EBN), an Asian health food, contains insoluble proteins and conjugated N-acetylneuraminic acid (NANA) that are difficult to be absorbed by humans. In order to increase the nutritional value of EBN, we developed methods to digest EBN targeting the release of proteins and NANA. By using simulated gastric fluid under acidic conditions, the complex proteins were fully digested into smaller peptides, and in parallel, NANA was fully released from the conjugated form. The completely digested EBN showed better nutraceutical properties. In a skin whitening test, the EBN digest showed stronger inhibition of melanogenesis of cultured B16 cells and enzymatic activity of tyrosinase, as compared to that of undigested EBN. In addition, the EBN digest exhibited stronger osteogenic activity in cultured osteoblasts. Thus, the complete digestion of EBN could be applied to the development of a new generation of EBN health food products, including EBN drinks and skincare products.