Fruits are increasingly known to be rich sources of nutrients and bioactive compounds that enhance wellness and are capable of preventing diseases. Some tropical fruits, and particularly those that are native to Brazil, contain relatively high amounts of carotenoids. These hydrophobic plant pigments (e.g., ²-carotene and lycopene) have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer activity. Epidemiological evidence certainly indicates that diets rich in fruits and vegetables is positively associated with reduced risks of various chronic disease and therefore with the quality of life. However, the development of health-promoting new products that best meet the dietary needs of modern societies is still in its early stages. Although some fruits are rich in carotenoid contents, its instability to heat and oxygen as well the fruits perishability is limiting innovation on this area. Bioaccessibility of carotenoid emerges as another challenge when developing health-promoting ingredients from tropical fruits. Usually, only 5-15% of vegetable carotenoid are accessible for uptake by intestinal epithelium. Recent research has provided the basis for new models to preserve the natural properties of raw materials and increase bioaccessibility of bioactive compounds. This research project seeks to study the application of microemulsions as oral delivery systems for bioactive carotenoid (i.e. ²-carotene, Lycopene and Lutein) from Buriti (Mauritia flexuosa) and Pitanga (Eugenia uniflora). Both fruits are native from Brazilian biomes and has high concentration of these functional carotenoids. Our overall goal is to process novel food ingredients with these two fruits in a manner that will stabilize the health-promoting carotenoids and increase their absorption following consumption.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: