Emulsion-based delivery systems for lipophilic bioactive components

J Food Sci. 2007 Oct;72(8):R109-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2007.00507.x.


There is a pressing need for edible delivery systems to encapsulate, protect, and release bioactive lipids within the food, medical, and pharmaceutical industries. The fact that these delivery systems must be edible puts constraints on the type of ingredients and processing operations that can be used to create them. Emulsion technology is particularly suited for the design and fabrication of delivery systems for encapsulating bioactive lipids. This review provides a brief overview of the major bioactive lipids that need to be delivered within the food industry (for example, omega-3 fatty acids, carotenoids, and phytosterols), highlighting the main challenges to their current incorporation into foods. We then provide an overview of a number of emulsion-based technologies that could be used as edible delivery systems by the food and other industries, including conventional emulsions, multiple emulsions, multilayer emulsions, solid lipid particles, and filled hydrogel particles. Each of these delivery systems could be produced from food-grade (GRAS) ingredients (for example, lipids, proteins, polysaccharides, surfactants, and minerals) using simple processing operations (for example, mixing, homogenizing, and thermal processing). For each type of delivery system, we describe its structure, preparation, advantages, limitations, and potential applications. This knowledge can be used to facilitate the selection of the most appropriate emulsion-based delivery system for specific applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry, Physical
  • Drug Compounding / methods*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Drug Stability
  • Emulsions* / administration & dosage
  • Emulsions* / chemistry
  • Food Industry
  • Food Technology / methods*


  • Emulsions