Thesis subject

Oil structuring: Edible oleogels

It is well known that large intakes of trans and saturated fatty acids cause diverse adverse health effects and increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, since there is ever increasing legislation to ban or reduce trans and saturated fatty acids, a lot of research is done to find alternatives to solid fat. However, saturated fat has important technological values. Being solid at room temperature, they provide good textural properties and melting behaviour. To find proper alternatives is a massive technological challenge and a ‘hot-topic’ in the food industry. One of the possible routes is using polysaccharides, proteins, emulsifiers or other substances which replace the technological function of solid fat. A more daring approach is to use so-called oleogels. Oleogels are gels in which the continuous liquid phase is oil. To create a network structure, alternative structuring agents are needed. Often these are small molecular weight molecules. We have recently found that we can also use proteins to structure oil. To use such protein oleogels in food products, we need to understand how the network of proteins is formed, and how we can control the interactions in the systems to provide a certain functionality: rheological behavior (gel strength, yield stress), water resistance and “melting” behavior. In this project, we aim to understand the network formation of the proteins to be able to control such properties.

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Research topics
• Determine stability and rheological behaviour of different protein systems
• Understanding of relevant interactions in the protein network
• Investigate the applicability to different types of proteins
• Suitability for protein oleogels as a drug delivery system

• Microscopy (polarized light microscopy, cryo-SEM, CLSM)
• Rheology (rheometer, texture analyzer)