From in vitro to in silico model: An engineering approach towards design of oil-in-water-based food products with tailored lipid digestion
Digestion and absorption of dietary oils plays a key role in the nutritional properties of lipids. Lipid digestion may be desirable as it provides essential fatty acids and contributes to the absorption of lipophilic nutritional compounds. Nevertheless, lipid digestion should be hindered for weight control and cardiovascular diseases prevention. Digestion of dietary lipids through the gut is a complex mechanism affected by many factors related to structural emulsion characteristics. Up to now, most of the research performed focused on studying lipid digestibility under simulated in vitro conditions. However, these methods are time consuming and expensive techniques that are not widely accessible to design new food products for targeted consumers. Therefore, the aim of this project is to deliver (i) fundamental knowledge on lipid digestion mechanism and (ii) a tool to predict how digestible lipids will depend on the initial food design characteristics of emulsions and resulting foods. For this, we will systematically evaluate lipid digestion products during simulated gastrointestinal conditions for a wide range of emulsions with structural different characteristics to generate an in silico model that links lipid digestibility to initial emulsion or food characteristics. This will allow partners in the food production and ingredient sector to predict lipid digestibility without having to run tedious and expensive in vitro methods.