• Physical and interfacial characterization of phytosterols in oil-in-water triacylglycerol-based emulsions

      Zychowski, Lisa; Mettu, Srinivas; Dagastine, Raymond; Kelly, Alan L.; O’Mahony, James A.; Auty, Mark; Teagasc (Elsevier, 2018-11-16)
      Phytosterols possess the ability to significantly lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood, but their bioaccessibility is highly dependent upon the solubility of the phytosterol within the carrier matrix. Currently, there is a limited amount of knowledge on how phytosterols interact at oil-water interfaces, despite research indicating that these interfaces could promote the crystallization of phytosterols and thus decrease bioaccessibility. In order to fill this knowledge gap, this work expands upon a previously studied emulsion system for encapsulating phytosterols and addresses whether phytosterols can crystalize at an oil-in-water emulsion interface. Images from multiple microscopic techniques suggest interfacial phytosterol crystallization in 0.6% phytosterol-enriched emulsions, while interfacial tension results and calculated models showed that whey protein and phytosterols had a synergistic effect on interfacial tension. A deeper understanding of the interfacial behavior of phytosterols in emulsions can provide the functional food and pharmaceutical industry with the knowledge needed to design more bioaccessible phytosterol-enriched products.