Corresponding author
    1. Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, Center of Excellence in Extrusion and Polymer Rheology, USDA, Wyndmoor, PA
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TEL: 215-233-6497; FAX: 215-233-6470; EMAIL: Charles.Onwulata@ars.usda.gov



In their active forms, the organic structures become the packaging units and carriers of nutrients intended for targeted delivery by nature, providing protection for the encapsulated active materials. This packaging and delivery role is mimicked in the microencapsulation process. One complex problem juxtaposes encapsulation effectiveness against accessibility and bioavailability of the entrapped nutrients; the others include providing nutrients that improve health and well-being instead of drugs, and the daily use of the “whole” foods including the “active” components only to prevent future health problems. Presently, new foods and functions are being delivered through new technologies such as functional hydrogels, nanoemulsions and nanoparticles. Future foods such as nutraceuticals and pharmafoods may be delivered in forms that control the amounts of bioactives released at targeted organs. Nutrients may be delivered through foods tailored to individual genetic makeup (nutrigenomics), for an individual's metabolic needs, related to a specific element, metabolomics.


Microencapsulation mimics nature by packaging active components within structures that provide protection and delivers nutrients at appropriate sites. As such, it provides a benefit to bioactive functional food components by limiting the adverse food processing environment, which can be deleterious at times, such as the presence of water and oxygen. By controlling the structure matrix, the release time and dosage of bioactive contents are controlled for intentional site-time delivery. This knowledge is leading the way bioactive components will be delivered for personal and body function and health-enhancing benefits through functional foods.