Functional foods are foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. This means that in addition to specific vitamins and nutrients, they can also reduce the risk of disease or promote other types of wellness. The issue with functional foods is that their nutrients are not always fully ingested due to limited bioavailability (the proportion of a nutrient absorbed and therefore able to produce a particular effect).
Yangchao Luo of the University of Connecticut Department of Nutritional Sciences, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and the Institute of Materials Sciences wants to find a solution. Through his research, he is experimenting with nanotechnology to improve the bioavailability of those nutrients and eventually help treat and prevent chronic diseases when they are put back into food. He is especially focusing on improving the bioavailability of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and more.
These nano-foods are currently not accepted by the USDA or FDA for human consumption due to lack of information of their side effects. To gain more insight, the USDA has given a grant to Luo to develop lipid nanoparticles that can be used in seafood they will test in their lab. This type of research could help strengthen certain nutrients and direct them into better parts of the body that can be more effective at fighting disease.
For more information on Luo’s research and what these functional foods are capable of, read more here.More From: University of Connecticut
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