The Food Structure and Function Laboratory uses biophysical and molecular techniques to study the biological functions of plant-based foods and their processing methods. This lab is focused on understanding how to produce a nutrient-dense, healthy diet that is easily digestible. Food scientists also use new structures to develop new ingredients. Incorporating new structures into current food products is often necessary for people with specialized nutritional needs. These new foods may be enriched with specific minerals and vitamins.
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Food structure influences a number of factors, including nutrient delivery, glycemic response, lipid profile, and the gut microbiome. Although dietary guidelines and clinical nutrition are largely based on nutrient-based research, there are few comparable instruments for evaluating food structure. However, recent findings have demonstrated that some foods have a beneficial impact on the body when their composition is optimized. Food structure can also be a determinant of nutrient bioavailability.
As the food industry continues to meet the needs of consumers and meet their demands for healthier foods, it is important to understand fundamental structure-function relationships of food components. The development of new foods and food processing methods rely on the knowledge of the basic structure-function relationships of food components. However, there is little understanding of the influence of ingredient formulations on food structure. Research on the impact of physical properties of food on health-promoting properties has been fragmented.