Lipid self-assembled structures for reactivity control in food
Lipid self-assembled structures (SASs) have recently gained considerable interest for their potential applications, especially for sustained nutrient release and protein crystallization. An additional property, which is underexploited, is their ability to control chemical reactions in food products. Here, we concentrate on SASs formed by phospholipids (PLs) and monoglycerides (MGs), those compounds being the most natural surfactants and therefore, the best compatible with food products, in view of providing new functionalities through the formation of SASs. In this work, the phase behaviour of these amphiphiles when mixed with oil and water is described and compared. Subsequently, we address the influence of these structures to the oxidation and Maillard-type reactions. Finally, we show that SASs formed by MGs can strongly increase the yield of key aroma impact compounds generated by Maillard-type reactions when compared with the reaction performed in aqueous precursor solutions. Various SASs are compared. In particular, addition of oil to a reversed bicontinuous structure formed by MG leads to a reversed microemulsion, which, considering its low viscosity, is particularly suitable for food products and act as a very efficient reactor system. The influence of oil and precursors on phase behaviour is discussed and related to the efficiency of the Maillard reactions. This article is part of the themed issue 'Soft interfacial materials: from fundamentals to formulation'.