Nanostructures of whey proteins for encapsulation of food ingredients

Oscar L. Ramos, Ricardo N. Pereira, Lívia S. Simões, Daniel A. Madalena, Rui M. Rodrigues, José A. Teixeira, António A. Vicente

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The most current and high-level research is being taken on the use of nanoscience and nanotechnology due to its varied application in numerous fields of science. Food nanotechnology, and in particular, the development and application of bio-based nanostructures are an emerging area having a high potential to engender new products and processes in the food industry. This chapter intends to discuss whey protein-based nanostructured systems (i.e., whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, Β-lactoglobulin, and α-lactalbumin) for encapsulation of food ingredients. These protein nanostructures have unique properties, such as a high nutritional value, GRAS nature, gelling capability, and can be easily prepared and controlled. They have also the ability to conjugate a large variety of food ingredients (e.g., antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, flavors, and odors) via amino groups or ionic and hydrophobic interactions. This behavior will prevent the degradation of sensitive bioactives, while permitting a site-specific action and controlled delivery rate due to the swelling behavior of the gel in reaction to external and physical stimuli such as temperature, enzymes, pH, or ionic strength), thus contributing to an improved bioavailability of such ingredients. The potential of whey protein nanostructures for encapsulation and controlled delivery of food ingredients will be addressed in a critical manner in this chapter. Moreover, various techniques used for their nanoencapsulation and evaluation of their stability during storage will also be discussed. The behavior and bioavailability of whey nanostructures and their associated/encapsulated food ingredients will be discussed using insights from in vitro and in vivo gastrointestinal systems together with potential cytotoxicity, cellular uptake, and allergenicity via in vitro cell lines. Finally, examples of such nanostructures applied in food matrices will be described, as well as the main challenges for their commercial use.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiopolymer nanostructures for food encapsulation purposes
EditorsSeid Mahdi Jafari
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9780128156636
ISBN (Print)9780128156643
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Aggregation
  • Bioaccessibility and bioavailability
  • Characterization techniques
  • Food applications
  • Food ingredients
  • Molecular interactions
  • Nanohydrogels
  • Nanostructured systems
  • Whey proteins


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