Development of food-grade nanoemulsions and emulsions for delivery of omega-3 fatty acids: opportunities and obstacles in the food industry
Consumption of biologically active amounts of omega-3 fatty acids is linked to improved human health, which has partly been attributed to their important role in brain development and cardiovascular health. Western diets are relatively low in omega-3 fatty acids and many consumers turn to supplements or functional foods to increase their intake of these healthy lipids. Fish oil is one of the most widely used sources of omega-3 fatty acid for supplementation and has greater health benefits than plant sources because of its higher concentration of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The incorporation of omega-3 fatty acids into foods and beverages is often challenging due to their low water-solubility, poor oxidative stability, and variable bioavailability. Nanoemulsions offer a promising way to incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into liquid food systems like beverages, dressing, sauces, and dips. Nanoemulsions are colloidal dispersions that contain small oil droplets (r < 100 nm) that may be able to overcome many of the challenges of fortifying foods and beverages with omega-3 fatty acids. The composition and fabrication of nanoemulsions can be optimized to increase the chemical and physical stability of oil droplets, as well as to increase the bioavailability of omega-3 fatty acids.