We are a group of food scientists working hard to make processed foods tastier, healthier and less impactful to the environment.
We do both fundamental and applied research for revealing mechanisms of formation of food structures. The obtained knowledge will be used in manipulating food structures for 1. improving processability of food materials; 2. for improving physical stability of processed food products; 3. for improving textural attributes (mouthfeel) of processed foods; 4. for improving digestibility and bioaccessibility of nutrients.
A specific optimum/functional food structure is a result of a combination of a series of processing treatments and a mixture of a number of food ingredients. In our group, we specifically focus on the part of food ingredient functionality. This part of work involves 1. further understanding of functionality of food ingredient in construction of a food structure; 2. manipulation of ingredient functionality for the benefits of structure design. Ingredient application, ingredient characterization and ingredient modification works are all involved in our group.
Food Structure Design
We constructed phytosomes to host ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Although the ascorbic acid release during intestinal hydrolysis was lower than liposome (above figure b), the cellular uptake of ascorbic acid from phytosomes (29.06 ± 1.18%) was more than that from liposomes (24.14 ± 0.60%) or from ascorbic acid aqueous solution (1.17 ± 0.70%). (for details: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2020.126837)
We used different dairy ingredients and constructed smooth and creamy spreadable cheese analogue. We are able to control the rheological property of the cheese analogue materials by using dairy ingredients. (for details: Zheng, et al. 2018 Testing functional boundaries of dairy ingredients in protein-fortified dairy gel systems, Journal of Dairy Science Volume 101, Supplement 2)
By using milk phospholipids with/without cholesterol, we are able to artificially construct spherical phospholipid bilayer systems (Giant Unilamellar Vesicles) which mimic the surface morphology of native milk fat globules (for details: doi 10.1021/jf500093p)
Food Ingredient Functionality
Milk phospholipids have been used as functional ingredients in foods. However, there have been no reports on how the polarity of lipids affects their digestibility. We compared the digestion kinetics between milk phospholipid and triacrylglycerols. The results revealed that their lipolysis reaction rate constants were significantly different (p <0.05) between milk phospholipids and triacylglycerols, moreover, the degradation of both lipids complied with first-order reaction kinetics. Furthermore, the cellular uptake of milk phospholipids was determined with HT-29 cell model, and they were not found to be absorbed intact during intestinal digestion. Milk phospholipids exhibited significant antioxidant activity in vitro, while their cellular antioxidant activity was very limited. (for details: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2020.103865)
This study aims to ascertain the impact of lipase-treated milk fat on bread quality in comparison with untreated bread controls. As a result of lipase treatment, dough structure was strengthened, and loaf volume improved. In vitro digestion revealed that the glycaemic load of breads with lipase-treated milk fat was significantly lower than that of control samples (P < 0.05). (solid red: control; purple, red dashed, solid black are samples containing lipased-treated milk fat) (for details: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lwt.2020.109455)
Milk protein concentrate 80 (MPC80) has been widely used as protein fortifier to make Greek (style) yogurt (the high protein yogurt). One of the key technical challenges for the high protein fortification in yogurt products is that the texture will become too rigid if the protein content is overall a critical level. Such technical barrier limits the fortification of milk protein to a higher level. We manufactured an innovative MPC80, in comparison to standard MPC80 (control sample), at the same fortification level (yielding same protein content, 10% w/w) in the yogurt gel systems, our innovative MPC80 resulted in a significant softer (thinner, less viscous) gel (test sample) without significantly alter the water holding capacity. (for details: J. A. Ortiz Salazar, R. H. Fernando, and H. Zheng*, 2019, Journal of Dairy Science Vol. 102, Suppl. 1).