High-quality proteins from farmed fish, including sea bream, represent a cheaper and healthier alternative to proteins from other animals, especially for people affected by chronic diseases. Aquaculture has also the possibility to move towards more sustainable growth and production. Therefore, the present study was designed to evaluate the impact of a starvation period before slaughtering in comparison to full feeding on quality attributes of sea bream fillet focused on their health promoting values. SDS-PAGE, Western blotting and high-resolution MS/MS analyses of the protein profiles showed that in the fillets from starved fish, only the amount of myosin light chains (MLCs) was markedly reduced at slaughter, suggesting their higher susceptibility to proteolysis. In the full feeding samples, MLCs degradation was evident only during storage at 4 °C. Conversely, skeletal alpha-actin fragmentation was similar regardless of the pre-slaughter feeding system. In vitro gastric digestibility of the myosin complex from starved fish fillets was much higher at pH 4, a condition that may occur in drug-treated patients affected by the gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Using UHPLC–MS/MS, ACE-inhibitor gastric-resistant bioactive peptides potentially coming from MLCs (VF, MF) were found in all the digested samples, with one of these peptides (MF) being present in larger amount in the starved samples. Pre-slaughter starvation, other than decreases the environmental impact of fish aquaculture, is an effective tool in obtaining good-quality sea bream fillets that provide potential health benefits for hypertensive and GERD consumers.
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