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    Valorisation of tomato wastes for development of nutrient-rich antioxidant ingredients: A sustainable approach towards the needs of the today's society
    Nutrient-rich antioxidant ingredients were produced from tomato fruit wastes using a microwave-assisted extraction (MAE) process. Different conditions of extraction time (t), temperature (T), ethanol concentration (Et) and solid/liquid ratio (S/L) were combined in a circumscribed central composite design and optimized by response surface methodology. The model was statistically validated and used for prediction in the experimental range. Under the global optimal MAE conditions (t = 20 min, T = 180 °C, Et = 47.4% and S/L = 45 g/L), it was possible to obtain an extraction yield of 75.5% and ingredients with high levels of sugars, proteins, phenolics, and flavonoids, and interesting antioxidant properties measured via ABTS+ scavenging activity and oxidative haemolysis inhibition assay (OxHLIA). The antioxidant capacity of the extracts was lower compared to the one of commercial food additives. However, the sustainably developed ingredients may be used in the fortification and functionalisation of food, as well as for incorporation in feed products.Industrial relevanceThis study addresses current needs of the agri-food sector, namely the recycling of plant wastes and production of valuable extracts for the food/feed industry. A MAE process was developed and optimized to maximize the recovery of nutrients and antioxidants from tomato fruit wastes. The optimum processing conditions established in this study allowed a high extraction yield and reduced solvent consumption. MAE can be considered as a sustainable alternative to conventional extraction methods. These findings will contribute to promote a more sustainable bioeconomy in the agro-food sector.
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