The controversy and ambiguity related with chemical additives, allied to sporadic scares, have paved the way for natural additives to gain interest and funding. Today, most consumers prefer foods added with natural additives, rather than artificial ones, which is seen by the food industry as an opportunity to find new and more efficient natural-based solutions, while fighting to reduce the overall use of additives, producing minimally processed goods. The benefits of natural additives are endless, their synergy and effectiveness are a great leap over artificial additives that carry out, in most
cases, only one effect over the food.
The plant and fungi kingdoms are great sources of bioactive compounds, that can be
used to develop natural food ingredients. These natural compounds can be added as extracts, taking advantage of the synergistic effects between compounds, or as individual molecules, after purification, thus adding the most bioactive ones to the foodstuff. Although quite promising, natural additives still face some drawbacks and limitations, availability of natural resources, exhaustive and not very efficient extraction methods, and several intrinsic and extrinsic factors that can affect the stability, availability, and bioactivity of natural compounds. Therefore, an important research topic is the discovery of new alternative sources of natural additives fulfilling the different classes: preservatives (antimicrobials, antioxidants, and anti-brownings), nutritional additives, coloring agents, flavoring agents, texturizing agents, and miscellaneous agents.
In order to address the advantages and challenges the use of natural additives in foods, an enormous amount of work, divided into three review and 15 original articles, involving diverse expert teams of from different parts of the world, embodied this book “Natural Additives in Foods”, where current issues on natural additives are discussed and explored. Briefly, topics on alternatives for sustainable obtaining of bioactive molecules from agro-food byproducts, an important cheap source of added value compounds, which can contribute to total exploration of natural source, and for reduction of environmental impact, are presented and discussed in some studies. Likewise, optimized extraction techniques, aiming at greater extraction efficiency with less use of natural resources, are proposed by for some authors. Several potential natural colorants to replace artificial
ones are covered in topics that discuss their main sources and bioactivities; and the sustainable production methods and the chemical stability of these compounds for later commercial use. In addition, interesting studies approach the valorization of wild species to obtain molecules with biological proprieties, both for human health and for addition in foods. And, finally, the production of foodstuff healthier than the traditional, is proposed through the use of natural ingredients rich in phytochemicals and through processes that aim to minimize the absorption of compounds harmful to health.