Food Engineering Reviews

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 245–258 | Cite as

Development of Emulsion Gels for the Delivery of Functional Food Ingredients: from Structure to Functionality

  • Yao Lu
  • Like MaoEmail author
  • Zhanqun Hou
  • Song Miao
  • Yanxiang Gao
Review Article


Emulsion gels are widely used in food products, and they have the characteristics of both emulsions and biopolymer gels. When distributed in gels, functional ingredients are protected by the gels and immobilized by the gel network, and thus, they usually have improved physicochemical stability. Emulsion gels are generally prepared based on proteins, polysaccharides, or their mixtures, and characteristics of the oil droplets played essential roles in the properties and functions of the systems. Emulsion gels can be fabricated to behave differently when encountered with different environment by controlling the physical structures of the gels, including their digestion behaviors in the digestive tract, which allowed adjustment of the stability and releasing behaviors of the incorporated functional ingredients, contributing to their enhanced bioavailability. A lot of studies in the last 10 years have proved that emulsion gels can effectively deliver vitamins, carotenoids, minerals, phenolic bioactives, flavors, unsaturated fatty acids, and other functional ingredients, and they are also suitable for the development of fat-reduced food. This article systematically reviewed recent studies regarding the use of emulsion gels as delivery systems for various functional ingredients, trying to get an improved understanding of the structures and functionalities of emulsion gels, for the better design of functional foods.


Emulsion gels Delivery systems Functional ingredients Structure Stability Digestion 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31701648).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Food Nutrition and Human Health, Beijing Laboratory for Food Quality and Safety, College of Food Science & Nutritional EngineeringChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Beijing Key Laboratory of the Innovative Development of Functional Staple and the Nutritional Intervention for Chronic DiseaseChina National Research Institute of Food & Fermentation Industries Co. Ltd.BeijingChina
  3. 3.Teagasc Food Research Centre, MooreparkFermoyIreland

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