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Structuring of plant-based food materials in the form of emulsions, biofilms, foams and organogels


New challenges for Food Engineering have recently emerged as a result of current population growth, the excessive use of natural resources, and high waste levels, which have been driven by new generations who are adopting flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan diets as a consequence of their quest for healthy foods from sustainable sources and with low environmental impact. There is urgency for the greater exploitation of natural raw materials together with the minimization of the use of synthetic ingredients in food formulations. In view of this scenario, the present proposal aims to investigate how some food raw materials from plant source act in the structuring of emulsions, biofilms, microcapsules, foams and organogels, focusing stabilization of foods and their nutrients. The research will have three distinct fronts:- In order to expand the use of proteins from plant sources, hydrocolloids based on proteins will be studied in the form of mixtures with polysaccharides (soy and alginate), aiming at better comprehension about their behavior and interactions, especially when applied in film formation for biodegradable packaging. Emulsions will be also studied, using a little explored protein (cowpea beans), aiming to elucidate how the interfacial behavior influences their properties, as well as, properties of the biofilms and microcapsules formed from them. Characterization of the colloidal solutions will be based on rheology, charge density and images by confocal microscopy. The films will be evaluated by means of morphological analysis, mechanical properties and, gas and water vapor permeability, while microcapsules will be assessed by means of size and shape, encapsulation efficiency and stability in simulated gastric and intestinal juice.- Colloidal dispersions of proteins (soy and pea) will be investigated as foaming agents and applied in foam mat drying of acerola, in order to obtain physical and nutritionally stable products. The need for lipophilic emulsifiers produced from raw materials of plant origin will be assessed (lactic acid esters of mono and diglycerides and distilled monoglycerides). To achieve the objectives, the effects of formulation and process variables on the dehydrated powder characteristics, will be assessed, based on drying kinetics, sorption properties, differential scanning calorimetry, carotenoid and vitamin C content, antioxidant capacity, color, morphology, solubility and stability studies during storage. - Organogels from plant oils and waxes, with potential for application as substitute of animal fats and saturated fats in foods, will be standardized, and exhaustive tests will be used that aim to improve the understanding of the parameters that influence and depict the formation and stability of organogels. Firstly, vegetable oils will be investigated as to their ability to be structured to form organogels, where the efficiency and ranges of a mathematical model to predict maximum temperature values for the organogelation of wax (soybean, peanut and sunflower) and monoglycerol solutions in vegetable oil (soy, peanut and sunflower) will be evaluated. The studies will be based on rheology experiments, phase transitions, load measurements, microscopy, X-ray diffraction, differential scanning calorimetry, amongst others. (AU)

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