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Food Ingredients

Jonathan J O’Sullivan and James A O’Mahony, School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
Ó 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Proteins 1
Hydrocolloids 2
Dietary Fiber 2
Fats and Oils 2
Preservatives and Additives 2
References 2

Food ingredients play an integral role within the food industry allowing food manufacturers to develop formulations with the
desired nutritional, functional, and sensory properties. This article provides an overview of the key ingredient categories and subcat-
egories that are employed within the food industry, i.e., proteins, hydrocolloids, dietary fibers, lipids, and additives (e.g.,


Proteins serve a myriad of functions within food systems owing to the complex chemical makeup of these biopolymers. Proteins are
composed of monomer units known as amino acids, 19 of which are true amino acids and 1 of which is an imino acid, proline
(Damodaran, 1997). These amino acids can be further grouped based on their characteristics: aliphatic, aromatic, acidic, alkaline,
hydroxylic, thiolic, and amidic (DeMan, 1999). Broadly, protein ingredients can be classified as those derived from animal, plant, or
nontraditional sources.
Animal proteins can be further categorized into milk proteins, muscle proteins, gelatin (derived from mammalian and piscine
sources), and egg proteins (egg white and yolk proteins), and are more commonly utilized within the food industry in comparison
to either plant or nontraditional protein sources. The animal protein market is dominated by dairy proteins (50% of the market
share), followed by egg proteins (40% of the market share), and lastly gelatin (predominately mammalian) which accounts for
10% of the global market share (FAO, 2015). Growth in the animal protein market is ascribed to rising demand in specific end
application segments, such as sports nutrition, clinical nutrition, and stage (i.e., infant or geriatric) nutrition. The choice of protein
and its conformation can have implications on the nutritional/physiological performance in terms of metabolic breakdown; an
example would be whey protein which is a ‘fast’ release protein, whereas micellar casein is a ‘slow’ release protein (O’Connell
and Flynn, 2007).
A variety of plants are employed for the production of protein-based ingredients, derived from legumes (i.e., pulses and oilseeds
such as soy, canola, pea, and lupin), cereals (e.g., rice, wheat, maize), or tubers (e.g., potato). There has been significant interest in
recent years in the incorporation of these ingredients in food formulations owing to their nutritional profile and lower cost
compared with animal proteins (Gonzalez-Perez and Arellano, 2009). However, in comparison to animal-derived proteins,
proteins derived from plant sources generally exhibit lower solubility and poorer functionality and very often have a nondesirable
sensory profile. These issues associated with plant proteins can be overcome through either enzymatic hydrolysis or processing with
novel technological processes (e.g., high-intensity ultrasound and high-pressure processing) which may improve their solubility
and functionality (Fernández-Ávila et al., 2015; O’Sullivan et al., 2016; Panyam and Kilara, 1996).
In addition to the conventionally employed animal proteins, and to a lesser extent plant protein sources, nontraditional protein
sources are being actively researched for commercialization as food ingredients. Nontraditional sources of protein include algae,
fungi, and insects, and have garnered significant interest as they are claimed to be more environmentally sustainable in terms of
water usage, in the case of insect proteins in comparison to animal protein sources, and potentially confer enhanced functionality
(i.e., foaming and emulsifying performance) in the case of hydrophobins, a cysteine-rich protein expressed by filamentous fungi
(Belluco et al., 2013; Green et al., 2013).
Enzymes are a special class of proteins which are macromolecular biological catalysts that increase the rate of a range of meta-
bolic processes. Each enzyme has a specific function owing to their unique three-dimensional structures. Enzyme activity is affected
by the presence of certain molecules, known as inhibitors or activators. In addition, enzyme activity is altered by extrinsic factors,
such as temperature, pH, and ionic strength, as these change the three-dimensional conformation of enzymes, which is key to their
functionality (Berg et al., 2012).
Enzymes which hydrolyze proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates are known as proteases, lipases, and carbohydrases, respectively.
Enzymes are commonly used within the dairy industry (e.g., rennet and lipases), brewing industry (e.g., amylases, glucanases, and
proteases), and generally within food processing (e.g., amylases, proteases, trypsin, cellulases, and pectinases) (Gibbs et al., 2009;
Schwenke, 1997).

Reference Module in Food Sciences 1

2 Food Ingredients


Hydrocolloids are hydrophilic polymers derived from a number of different sources including plant (e.g., locust bean gum, carra-
geenan, pectin, starch), animal (e.g., chitosan), microbial (e.g., xanthan gum), or chemical modification of natural polysaccharides
(e.g., carboxymethyl cellulose), and generally possess many hydroxyl groups and may be polyelectrolytes. Hydrocolloids are incor-
porated into food formulations mainly to control rheology and structure. In aqueous environments, hydrocolloids swell, increasing
their hydrodynamic volume, thereby increasing the viscosity of the system. In addition, if the hydrocolloids entrain sufficient water
due to their concentration, their chains will interact, yielding a gelled network. Hydrocolloid gels can be produced at high concen-
trations of polymer, or by reducing the solvent quality (i.e., alteration of pH or ionic strength). For example, addition of sufficient
Kþ ions to a liquid k-carrageenan solution yields a gel. Due to their swelling behavior, hydrocolloids are required only in low
concentrations to confer the desired effect to the food microstructure (Gladkowska–Balewicz et al., 2014; Morris et al., 1981;
Saha and Bhattacharya, 2010).

Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber is the indigestible portion of food derived from plants and is categorized as soluble or insoluble fiber. Dietary fiber
consists of high molecular weight polysaccharides, whereby for the example of cellulose, it is comprised of in excess of hundreds
of b(1/4) linked D-glucose monomer units. Soluble dietary fiber is fermented within the colon, yielding both gases and bioactive
by-products, which can act as rheology modifiers (i.e., thickeners) and prebiotic agents. Insoluble dietary fiber can either be meta-
bolically inert providing structure and consistency, or can be metabolically fermented and act as a prebiotic. As insoluble dietary
fiber moves through the gastrointestinal tract, it absorbs water which in turn eases defecation (Anderson et al., 2009; Eswaran
et al., 2013). Dietary fiber can be obtained from by-products resulting from the processing of many food products,
including vegetables, fruits, cereals, and legumes, and many of these systems contain b-glucans and celluloses (McKee and Latner,

Fats and Oils

Fats and oils are a group of naturally occurring molecules, collectively referred to as lipids, the main function of which is energy
storage. Furthermore, fats and oils play an integral role within food formulations giving them creamy and rich mouthfeel, which
is difficult to achieve with other ingredients. Lipids are quite energy dense, possessing 9 kcal g1, whereas both proteins and carbo-
hydrates have 4 kcal g1. The defining difference between fats and oils is that they are solid and liquid, respectively, at ambient
temperature. Triglycerides are a common structure for lipids and possess two main components: (1) glycerol and (2) fatty acids.
The chemical structure of these fatty acids defines whether the lipid will exhibit solid- or liquid like behavior. Typically, lipids which
have long chain and/or saturated fatty acids will be solid at ambient temperature (i.e., improved packing of fatty acid chains, e.g.,
palm oil, butterfat), while lipids which have unsaturated fatty acid chains are likely to be liquid at ambient temperature (i.e.,
decreased packing efficiency due to double-bonded sections, e.g., corn oil, rapeseed oil) (McClements, 2005).

Preservatives and Additives

Preservatives are added to food formulations in order to enhance the shelf life of a product. Traditional food preservatives include
vinegar for pickling and salt for curing of meats, and more recently sorbates, benzoates, nitrites, natamycin, and sulfur compounds
have been employed. Other additives are added to food systems with the purpose of maintaining flavor, enhancing taste or appear-
ance. Food additives can be divided into several categories, with some overlap. These categories include acidity regulators, antiox-
idants, antifoaming agents, anticaking agents, emulsifiers, flavors, flavor enhancers, food colorants, color retention agents,
thickeners, whitening agents, free-flowing agents, to mention but a few (WHO, 2008). Food manufacturers are continually refor-
mulating foods to eliminate the use of synthetic-derived additives, as they are perceived poorly by consumers, and to achieve a clean
label product.


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