Unravelling the effect of droplet size on lipid oxidation in O/W emulsions by using microfluidics

ten Klooster, Sten; Boerkamp, Vincent; Hennebelle, Marie; van Duynhoven, John; Schroën, Karin; Berton-Carabin, Claire


Lipid oxidation in emulsions is hypothesised to increase with decreasing droplet size, as this increases the specific oil–water interfacial area, where lipid oxidation is expected to be initiated. In literature, however, contradictory results have been reported, which can be caused by confounding factors such as the oil droplet polydispersity and the distribution of components between the available phases. In this work, monodisperse surfactant-stabilised emulsions with highly controlled droplet sizes of 4.7, 9.1, and 26 µm were produced by microfluidic emulsification. We show that lipid oxidation increases with decreasing droplet size, which we ascribe to the increased contact area between lipids and continuous phase prooxidants. Besides, a significant amount of oxygen was consumed by oxidation of the surfactant itself (Tween 20), an effect that also increased with decreasing droplet size. These insights substantiate the importance of controlling droplet size for improving the oxidative stability of emulsions.