Food Chemistry

Food lipids

The term ‘Lipids’ refers to a wide class of molecules, the main ones being fatty acids, glycerolipids, glycerophospholipids, sphingolipids, and sterols. They contribute to the flavour, texture, and nutritional value of food. Lipid oxidation is an important challenge for the food industry as it reduces nutritional value and generates off-flavour. Better understanding the mechanisms behind lipid oxidation will help developing innovative ways to prevent it.

Description of theme 

The incorporation of polyunsaturated fatty acids in food formulations could be of great interest to promote health. These polyunsaturated fatty acids are involved in the regulation of inflammation and have shown benefits for cardiovascular and cerebral functions. However, these polyunsaturated fatty acids are also very sensitive to lipid oxidation, generating unpleasant off-flavours and reducing the nutritional value of these compounds.

Lipid oxidation in food is a complex process, that could lead to the formation of hundreds of different molecules. Moreover, the type of food matrix and the presence of other components (proteins, antioxidants, metals) could influence the process, making it even more complex. In order to prevent the generation of off-flavours and the loss of nutritional value of food due to lipid oxidation, it is important to better characterize these mechanisms.  

The aim of this theme is to (i) set up analytical tools for characterization and quantification of lipid oxidation products (radicals, hydroperoxides, oxylipins, volatiles), (ii) monitor lipid oxidation in various types of food or food ingredients during storage and processing, (iii) understand the interaction with other food components, such as metals, proteins, and antioxidants, (iv) develop innovative and consumer-friendly methods to control lipid oxidation in food.

To this end, multiple analytical tools are used including Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) spectroscopy and various chromatographic and mass spectrometric methods.

Research Projects