Metabolomics: applications to food science and nutrition research

Metabolomics is an emerging field of “omics” research that focuses on high-throughput characterization of small molecule metabolites in biological matrices. As such, metabolomics is ideally positioned to be used in many areas of food science and nutrition research. This review focuses on the recent trends and potential applications of metabolomics in four areas of food science and technology: (1) food component analysis; (2) food quality/authenticity assessment; (3) food consumption monitoring; and (4) physiological monitoring in food intervention or diet challenge studies. [1]

Functional food science and gastrointestinal physiology and function

The gut is an obvious target for the development of functional foods, acting as it does as the interface between diet and the metabolic events which sustain life. The key processes in digestive physiology which can be regulated by modifying diet are satiety, the rate and extent of macronutrient breakdown and absorption from the small bowel, sterol metabolism, the colonic microflora, fermentation, mucosal function and bowel habit, and the gut immune system. The intestinal microflora is the main focus of many current functional foods. Probiotics are foods which contain live bacteria which are beneficial to health whilst prebiotics, such as certain non-digestible oligosaccharides which selectively stimulate the growth of bifidobacteria in the colon, are already on the market. Their claimed benefits are to alleviate lactose maldigestion, increase resistance to invasion by pathogenic species of bacteria in the gut, stimulate the immune system and possibly protect against cancer. There are very few reports of well-designed human intervention studies with prebiotics as yet. Certain probiotic species have been shown to shorten the duration of rotavirus diarrhoea in children but much more work is needed on the mechanism of immunomodulation and of competitive exclusion and microflora modification. The develop-ment of functional foods for the gut is in its infancy and will be successful only if more fundamental research is done on digestive physiology, the gut microflora, immune system and mucosal function. [2]

Functional food science and defence against reactive oxidative species

This paper assesses critically the science base that underpins the argument that oxidative damage is a significant causative factor in the development of human diseases and that antioxidants are capable of preventing or ameliorating these disease processes. The assessment has been carried out under a number of headings, and some recommendations for future research are made based on the present day knowledge base. [3]

Storage Stability of Pupuru Flour (A Cassava Product) at Room Temperature

Aims: The knowledge of water sorption Isotherm gives information about water activity of foods; to investigate chemical reactions during drying and storage. This study therefore, was to determine the sorption properties of pupuru flour during storage at ambient temperature.

Study Design: Research study.

Place and Duration of Study: The study was carried out in the Food Processing Laboratory of Food Science and Technology Department of Federal University of Technology, Akure, between April 2009 and December 2009.

Methodology: Adsorption characteristics of pupuru flour, a fermented cassava product, were determined at room temperature of 27°C using the static gravimetric procedure. Samples were equilibrated in desiccators containing tetraoxosulphate (VI) solution of known water activity (0.1-0.6). The data obtained were fitted to four moisture sorption models, namely Henderson, Chung Pfost, Oswin and Caurie for their predictive capabilities.

Results: The coefficients of determination varied from 0.881- 0.993. Both Henderson and Oswin models gave the most suitable models for describing the sorption data. The appropriate constants in the sorption equation were determined by regression analysis at temperature of 27°C. A comparison of the EMC curves showed that the toasted pupuru sample had lower equilibrium moisture contents than the smoked and oven dried samples at lower aw but higher EMC at higher aw.

Conclusion: It can also be concluded that the models are quite useful in assessing the storage stability of pupuru flour. The toasted pupuru flour has a higher sorption capacity and longer storage stability at higher aw of the tropics than the other two samples at atmospheric temperature of 29°C. [4]

Effect of Added Bambara Groundnut Flour on the Quality of Acha Based Fura

Aims: To improve the nutrient quality of fura, an acha based flour food by adding bambara groundnut flour.

Study Design: Product development approach.

Place and Duration of Study: Department of Food Science and Technology, Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi and for six months.

Methodology: Acha grain (Digitaria exilis) and Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranean) were cleaned, dry milled and sieved to produce flour. The Bambara groundnut was substituted into acha grain flour (0-25%), mixed with spices (cloves, salt, ginger, red chilly-pepper, black pepper), conditioned (adding water), molded into balls, steamed (5min), boiled (30min), pound and molded to produce fura. The sample were analyzed for chemical (protein, fat, ash, moisture, carbohydrate), sensory (taste, colour, texture, odour) and functional (water absorption, bulk density and foam capacity).

Results: The added bambara groundnut increased the protein (6.14 – 9.30%), fat (3.01 – 4.80%), crude fibre (1.20 – 4.4%) and ash (0.50 –1.12%), but decreased the carbohydrate (88.20 – 79.21%) content of the fura with increase in quantity (0 – 25%). The bulk density and foam capacity increased 0.57 – 0.71% and 5.0 – 12.2%, respectively with increase in added bambara groundnut (0 -25%). There was significant increase in the foam capacity. The average means scored of the taste, texture and general acceptability increased 6.4 -7.55, 7.1 – 7.8, and 6.9 – 7.85, respectively, with increase in added Bambara groundnut up to 10% and thereafter decreased significantly.

Conclusion: The addition of Bambara groundnut increased the protein, fat, fibre and ash content significantly, p = 0.05, however, it was most acceptable at 10%. At this level of acceptance, the protein, fat and fibre content have been improved by 27.5, 37.8 and 31.5% respectively. [5]


[1] Wishart, D.S., 2008. Metabolomics: applications to food science and nutrition research. Trends in food science & technology, 19(9), pp.482-493.

[2] Salminen, S., Bouley, C., Boutron, M.C., Cummings, J.H., Franck, A., Gibson, G.R., Isolauri, E., Moreau, M.C., Roberfroid, M. and Rowland, I., 1998. Functional food science and gastrointestinal physiology and function. British journal of nutrition, 80(S1), pp.S147-S171.

[3] Diplock, A.T., Charuleux, J.L., Crozier-Willi, G., Kok, F.J., Rice-Evans, C., Roberfroid, M., Stahl, W. and Vina-Ribes, J., 1998. Functional food science and defence against reactive oxidative species. British journal of nutrition, 80(S1), pp.S77-S112.

[4] Famurewa, J. A. V., Oluwamukomi, M. O. and Alaba, J. O. (2012) “Storage Stability of Pupuru Flour (A Cassava Product) at Room Temperature”, Current Journal of Applied Science and Technology, 2(2), pp. 138-145. doi: 10.9734/BJAST/2012/613.

[5] Ayo, J. A., Popoola, C. A., Ayo, V. A. and Andrew, E. (2013) “Effect of Added Bambara Groundnut Flour on the Quality of Acha Based Fura”, Current Journal of Applied Science and Technology, 4(1), pp. 168-176. doi: 10.9734/BJAST/2014/4782.

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