Food Science and Technology Department


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Food Science 84:7 (2019), pp 1812–1819.

doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.14673


Copyright © 2019 Institute of Food Technologists; published by John Wiley Inc. Used by permission.


Phytosterols are natural health-promoting bioactive compounds; however, phytosterols have very limited bioavailability due to their crystalline lipophilic structure. With the aim of improving bioaccessibility, low-crystallinity phytosterol nanoparticles were generated by supercritical carbon dioxide (SC-CO2) impregnation of phytosterols into nanoporous starch aerogels (NSAs). The in vitro bioaccessibility of the phytosterol nanoparticles (35%) was significantly higher than that of the crude phytosterols (3%) after sequential oral, gastric, and intestinal digestion. The percentages of starch hydrolysis were not different among the various NSA preparations and reached to 64% after sequential digestion. The zeta potential of the phytosterol nanoparticles was higher compared to that of crude phytosterols in the micellar phase; indicating higher stability. The findings of this study support the use of NSA to produce nanoparticles of reduced crystallinity to improve the bioaccessibility of the lipophilic bioactive compounds. Keywords: aerogel, bioaccessibility, nanoparticles, phytosterol, supercritical Practical Applications: This novel process can decrease the size and crystallinity of phytosterols and thus improve phytosterols’ bioavailability. It is a blueprint to apply to other water insoluble food bioactives. This novel approach may (i) improve the health benefits of water-insoluble bioactives; (ii) enable food manufacturers to add water-insoluble bioactives into low- and high-fat foods to produce health-promoting foods; and (iii) enhance the cost-benefit ratio of water insoluble bioactives.

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