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Whey Proteins and Its Derivatives: Bioactivity, Functionality, and Current Applications


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With the increased consumer demand for nutritional foods, it is important to develop value-added products, which will not only catch the attention of a wider consumer group but also provide greater benefits in terms of enhanced nutrition and functionality. Milk whey proteins are one of the most valued constituents due to their nutritional and techno-functional attributes. Whey proteins are rich in bioactive peptides, possessing bioactive properties such as being antioxidant and antihypertensive as well as having antimicrobial activities, which, when ingested, confers several health benefits. These peptides have the potential to be used as an active food ingredient in the production of functional foods. In addition to their bioactivities, whey proteins are known to possess enhanced functional attributes that allow them to be utilized in broad applications, such as an encapsulating agent or carrier materials to entrap bioactive compounds, emulsification, and in edible and active packaging. Hence, over the recent years, several whey protein-based ingredients have been developed and utilized in making formulations for a wide range of foods to harness their beneficial properties. This review highlights the bioactive properties, functional characteristics, associated processing limitations, and applications of different whey protein fractions and derivatives in the field of food formulations, encapsulation, and packaging.
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Whey Proteins and Its Derivatives: Bioactivity,
Functionality, and Current Applications
Shayanti Minj and Sanjeev Anand *
Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center, Dairy and Food Science Department, South Dakota State University,
Brookings, SD 57007, USA;
*Correspondence:; Tel.: +1-605-688-6648
Received: 2 October 2020; Accepted: 2 November 2020; Published: 5 November 2020
With the increased consumer demand for nutritional foods, it is important to develop
value-added products, which will not only catch the attention of a wider consumer group but
also provide greater benefits in terms of enhanced nutrition and functionality. Milk whey proteins
are one of the most valued constituents due to their nutritional and techno-functional attributes.
Whey proteins are rich in bioactive peptides, possessing bioactive properties such as being antioxidant
and antihypertensive as well as having antimicrobial activities, which, when ingested, confers several
health benefits. These peptides have the potential to be used as an active food ingredient in the
production of functional foods. In addition to their bioactivities, whey proteins are known to possess
enhanced functional attributes that allow them to be utilized in broad applications, such as an
encapsulating agent or carrier materials to entrap bioactive compounds, emulsification, and in edible
and active packaging. Hence, over the recent years, several whey protein-based ingredients have been
developed and utilized in making formulations for a wide range of foods to harness their beneficial
properties. This review highlights the bioactive properties, functional characteristics, associated
processing limitations, and applications of dierent whey protein fractions and derivatives in the
field of food formulations, encapsulation, and packaging.
Keywords: bioactive; functional; encapsulation; formulation; whey proteins
1. Introduction
Bovine milk is one of the most nutritious foods and is widely used for human consumption. It is
one of the rich sources of nutrients that have several biological properties that impact the biochemical
processes in our body, influences the development and functioning of specific organs, and oers
protection from diseases. Milk provides a wide range of biologically active components, such as
bioactive proteins and peptides, oligosaccharides, immunoglobulins, and fats/lipids, that protect
against pathogens and illnesses on regular consumption.
Milk can be sourced from several milch animals, including, cow, bualo, goat, and sheep. Bovine
milk contains approximately a total protein of 3.5%, fats, and essential vitamins, which support
growth and development [
]. It is a natural and rich source of well-balanced nutrients that show
a diverse range of bio functional properties. These properties are because of the presence of milk
proteins/peptides, which support infant development, stimulates growth, improves muscle mass,
and confers positive health implications beyond basic nutrition [
]. Besides, the proteins extracted
from milk are well characterized for their multiple functional characteristics and are utilized by several
industries in food applications. The milk protein system is predominantly constituted by two kinds
of proteins: approximately 80% (w/w) casein, which is generally extracted from skim milk through
precipitation using either an acid (isoelectric precipitation) or enzymes (rennet coagulation), and 20%
whey, which is a leftover byproduct after the casein is extracted [
]. Generally, the whey portion of
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milk contains five fractions that altogether make up 85% of the whey protein. These fractions include
-lactoglobulin, glycomacropeptide, immunoglobulins, protease peptone, and serum
albumin, whereas the casein portion of milk contains
s2- casein, and
-casein [
Proteins are macronutrients, and when consumed as supplements may exhibit favorable eects
on growth metabolism and health [
]. Several reports show that protein deficiency is one of the major
health concerns globally [
], and considering this condition, the introduction of dietary protein-rich
supplements is of utmost importance. Some of the by-products from agricultural industries, like fruit
pomace [
], soy extract [
], cereal brans [
], and milk whey [
], are increasingly getting popular
as food ingredients with healthy components. This review focuses on exploiting the bioactive and
functional properties of milk whey proteins.
Whey is the yellow-green-colored liquid portion of milk, also called cheese serum, and is obtained
after separation of the curd, during coagulation of milk using proteolytic enzymes or acids [
It was considered as a major dairy waste for decades because of the disposal issues related to its
high biological oxygen demand and high organic matter [
]. However, nowadays whey proteins are
recognized as a potential source of nutrients and are exploited for its bioactive ingredients. Because
of its high nutritional composition, it is used in several commercial food product applications and is
significantly associated with the dairy industry. Generally, fresh liquid whey from cheese-making is
composed of 94.2% water and 50% of the total solids of which 0.8% is whey proteins, 0.5% is minerals,
0.1% is fat, and 4.3% is lactose, which is the main constituent [
]. However, the composition and the
characteristics of whey may vary with the type of cattle, the diet of the animal, the milk from which it is
produced, the processing techniques used, and other environmental factors [
]. Whey proteins are a
form of globular proteins, containing a considerable number of
-helix patterns with evenly distributed
hydrophilic and hydrophobic as well as acidic and basic amino acids along their polypeptide chain [
The major constituents of whey proteins include
-lactalbumin (
-lactoglobulin (
-LG), bovine
serum albumin (BSA), immunoglobulins (IG), bovine lactoferrin (BLF), bovine lactoperoxidase (LP),
and minor amounts of glycomacropeptide (GMP). The composition of each constituent is shown in
Table 1. However, the whey protein composition will vary based on the whey type, i.e., sweet whey or
acid whey; the type of milk, i.e., bovine, ovine, or caprine; the type of cattle feed; lactation stage; and
the type of processing. Whey, acidic in nature, will have a pH of approx. 5.1 and is generally produced
through direct acidification whereas sweet whey has a pH of around 5.6 and is produced through
rennet-coagulation, particularly during the cheese-making process [17].
Table 1. Whey protein constituents and its composition a.
Whey Protein Constituent Concentration
(g/L) b,e
Molecular Weight in
kDa c,d
Number of Amino
Acid Residues c
α-Lactalbumin 1.2 14,175 123
β-Lactoglobulin 1.3 18,277 162
Bovine serum albumin 0.4 66,267 582
(A, M, and C) 0.7 25,000 (light chain) and
50,000–70,000 (heavy chain) -
Bovine lactoferrin 0.1 80,000 700
Glycomacropeptide 1.2 6700 64
bovine Lactoperoxidase 0.03 70,000 612
References: a[3], b[18], c[19], d[20], e[21].
2. Whey Protein Derivatives: Concentrates, Isolates, and Hydrolysates
With the rising popularity of healthy eating, there is a worldwide demand for food products
formulated with high protein [
]. The daily average protein intake for a sedentary person should be
0.8 g per kg of body weight per day (g/kg/day) [
]. This amount of protein is required to maintain
a positive nitrogen balance and healthy metabolic function in the body. There are various forms of
Dairy 2020,1235
supplemental proteins available, such as egg, soy, hemp, whey, and casein. Among these, milk whey
contains the maximum concentration of amino acids that are readily available and easy to digest,
making it eectively incorporate into body cells [24].
Besides, milk whey proteins are recognized as healthy ingredients because of their several
advantages associated with their regular intake, including appetite control, exercise recovery,
and promoting satiety [
]. In recent years, several applications of membrane filtration have enabled
the use of dierent whey protein components as food additives. Using selective membranes, after
the milk is coagulated the whey protein is extracted in two main forms: whey protein concentrates
(WPCs), having ~34–89% protein, and whey protein isolates (WPIs), having at least 90% protein [
Passing the whey proteins through various processing treatments leads to the formation of whey
products (Figure 1) with dierent qualitative and quantitative protein profiles, minerals, lipids,
and sugars. Application of selective membranes to fractionate whey proteins include ultrafiltration
(UF) to concentrate proteins or the use of the diafiltration (DF) method to exclude the molecular
compounds like minerals, lactose, and other low-weight components. This leads to the production
of whey protein concentrates (WPC) [
]. It is the most concentrated form of protein supplement,
which has high calories and contains all the macro- and micro-nutrients derived from the manufacturing
process. However, based on the protein concentration, it can be of several types, like a WPC of 35%,
50%, 65%, and 80% (w/w) protein. When most of the components are removed, i.e., the whey undergoes
an additional purification step to eliminate or minimize the extraneous carbohydrates and fats to
obtain a protein threshold of 90% (w/w), it is referred as whey protein isolate (WPI). Though being
a high-quality protein, the disadvantage of an isolated form of whey protein is that the purification
leads to the elimination of some of the important micro-nutrients and protein fractions like lactoferrins,
β-lactoglobulins, and immune-globulins.
The concentrates and isolates are composed of large intact protein structures, hence, during
digestion, the enzymes in our digestive tract break down these proteins, targeting the amino acid
bonds, to generate smaller peptides with amino acid sequences. To facilitate this process and make the
protein absorption faster, the manufacturers pre-digest the protein to produce protein hydrolysates.
Dairy 2020, 1, x FOR PEER REVIEW 4 of 26
Figure 1. Production of whey protein derivatives.
3. Biological Properties of Whey Proteins Associated with Bioactive Peptides
The biological properties of whey proteins (Figure 2) are widely recognized and have been
increasingly exploited in scientific research studies and food applications by various industries. β-
lactoglobulins contribute to 50% of the whey protein, which helps to bind minerals like zinc and
calcium. It also has partial sequence homology to retinol-binding proteins. α-Lactalbumin, on the
other hand, is strongly advised to be added in infant formulas or into foods to develop protein-rich
dietary intakes [30]. Serum albumin can bind fatty acids and immunoglobulins like IgA, IgM, IgG1,
and IgG2, which helps to develop passive immunity in consumers [31]. Other protein fractions like
lactoferrin is an iron-binding protein that increases the iron absorption in the digestive tract to inhibit
enteric microorganisms and promote the growth of desirable microorganisms. It also modulates the
immune system and is considered as the major non-specific disease resistance factor in the mammary
gland. Lactoferricin is a peptide derived from lactoferrin and is used against intestinal pathogens.
Lactoperoxidase is an enzyme with antibacterial properties that is used as a natural preservative to
control acid development in milk during refrigerated storage [32]. Whey proteins are a rich source of
essential amino acids like cysteine, branched-chain amino acids like leucine, isoleucine, and valine,
and in bioactive peptides [33]. Leucine plays an important role in regulating the synthesis of skeletal
muscle protein and is 50–75% higher in whey proteins as compared to other sources [34]. It is also
high in sulphur-rich amino acids, i.e., cysteine, which is a precursor of glutathione [35]. Glutathione
is a non-enzymatic thiol obtained from the diet, which acts as an antioxidant. It helps to protect from
diseases by reducing the antioxidative stress and regulating the cellular processes [36].
Glycomacropeptide (12%), released during the rennet coagulation of cheese, is a casein-derived whey
peptide that has many health benefits, including satiety and phenylketonuria management [37].
Specific biological functions of the whey protein components are given in Table 2.
Depending on the protein concentration and characteristics, whey proteins are marketed in
forms of whey protein concentrates, isolates, and hydrolysates (partially broken down through
digestion) [38]. These derivatives have a broad range of biological functions, including reducing
oxidative stress, promoting muscle growth and synthesis, suppressing appetite, hypoglycemia,
Figure 1. Production of whey protein derivatives.
Dairy 2020,1236
When whey protein concentrates or isolates are treated with acids, enzymes, or heat, the intact
form of protein breaks down into peptides and amino acids, leading to the formation of whey protein
hydrolysates (WPH). These pre-digested forms of whey protein are eectively absorbed in the gut,
and the hydrolysates that are produced through enzymatic hydrolysis using protease enzyme contains
the identical amino acid composition to that of the concentrate and isolate; thus, on ingestion, they can
rapidly increase the amino acid concentration in the plasma as compared to intact forms of protein [
The final composition of the hydrolysate largely depends on the type of process implied to break the
proteins, the type of enzymes used, reaction or hydrolysis conditions applied, and the number of
amino acid bonds that are targeted and broken. Therefore, the degree of hydrolysis is measured to
determine the release of the amino acids. The greater the degree of hydrolysis, the smaller the amino
acids per peptide, resulting in the generation of more bitter peptides [
]. However, all these forms of
proteins are enriched with several benefits and used as food additives to exhibit biological properties.
3. Biological Properties of Whey Proteins Associated with Bioactive Peptides
The biological properties of whey proteins (Figure 2) are widely recognized and have been
increasingly exploited in scientific research studies and food applications by various industries.
-lactoglobulins contribute to 50% of the whey protein, which helps to bind minerals like zinc and
calcium. It also has partial sequence homology to retinol-binding proteins.
-Lactalbumin, on the
other hand, is strongly advised to be added in infant formulas or into foods to develop protein-rich
dietary intakes [
]. Serum albumin can bind fatty acids and immunoglobulins like IgA, IgM, IgG1,
and IgG2, which helps to develop passive immunity in consumers [
]. Other protein fractions like
lactoferrin is an iron-binding protein that increases the iron absorption in the digestive tract to inhibit
enteric microorganisms and promote the growth of desirable microorganisms. It also modulates the
immune system and is considered as the major non-specific disease resistance factor in the mammary
gland. Lactoferricin is a peptide derived from lactoferrin and is used against intestinal pathogens.
Lactoperoxidase is an enzyme with antibacterial properties that is used as a natural preservative
to control acid development in milk during refrigerated storage [
]. Whey proteins are a rich
source of essential amino acids like cysteine, branched-chain amino acids like leucine, isoleucine,
and valine, and in bioactive peptides [
]. Leucine plays an important role in regulating the synthesis
of skeletal muscle protein and is 50–75% higher in whey proteins as compared to other sources [
It is also high in sulphur-rich amino acids, i.e., cysteine, which is a precursor of glutathione [
Glutathione is a non-enzymatic thiol obtained from the diet, which acts as an antioxidant. It helps to
protect from diseases by reducing the antioxidative stress and regulating the cellular processes [
Glycomacropeptide (12%), released during the rennet coagulation of cheese, is a casein-derived
whey peptide that has many health benefits, including satiety and phenylketonuria management [
Specific biological functions of the whey protein components are given in Table 2.
Depending on the protein concentration and characteristics, whey proteins are marketed in forms
of whey protein concentrates, isolates, and hydrolysates (partially broken down through digestion) [
These derivatives have a broad range of biological functions, including reducing oxidative stress,
promoting muscle growth and synthesis, suppressing appetite, hypoglycemia, phenylketonuria
management, reducing risks related to cardiovascular diseases, and protecting from ultraviolet (UV)
radiation damage [11].
Dairy 2020,1237
Dairy 2020, 1, x FOR PEER REVIEW 5 of 26
phenylketonuria management, reducing risks related to cardiovascular diseases, and protecting from
ultraviolet (UV) radiation damage [11].
Figure 2. Biological properties of the whey protein derivatives.
Table 2. Biological activities of the major whey protein constituents based on Madureira et al. (2007)
Whey Protein
Constituent Biological Activities References
Anticancer activity [18]
Lactose metabolism and synthesis [39]
Treatment of chronic stress-induced disease [40]
Transporter of retinol, fatty acids, palmitate, vitamin D
and cholesterol [41–43]
Increase in pregastric esterase activity [44]
Mammary gland phosphorus synthesis and metabolism [45]
Passive immunity transfer [46]
Bovine serum albumin
Bind fatty acids [47]
Anti-mutagenic activity [48]
Anti-cancer activity [49]
Immune system modulation through passive immunity [50,51]
(A, M, and C)
Antimicrobial activity [52]
Antifungal activity [53]
Opioid activity [54]
Whey protein
isolate and
Figure 2. Biological properties of the whey protein derivatives.
Table 2. Biological activities of the major whey protein constituents based on Madureira et al. (2007) [3].
Whey Protein
Constituent Biological Activities References
Anticancer activity [18]
Lactose metabolism and synthesis [39]
Treatment of chronic stress-induced disease [40]
Transporter of retinol, fatty acids, palmitate, vitamin D and cholesterol
Increase in pregastric esterase activity [44]
Mammary gland phosphorus synthesis and metabolism [45]
Passive immunity transfer [46]
Bovine serum albumin
Bind fatty acids [47]
Anti-mutagenic activity [48]
Anti-cancer activity [49]
Immune system modulation through passive immunity [50,51]
(A, M, and C)
Antimicrobial activity [52]
Antifungal activity [53]
Opioid activity [54]
3.1. Whey Protein-Associated Bioactive Peptides
The isolated protein fragments, i.e., those containing 2 to 20 amino acid residues, that influence
health by delivering beneficial eects on body functions are referred to as bioactive peptides. Mellander
in 1950 derived phosphorylated peptides from casein and showed an enhanced eect on rachitic
infants in Vitamin-D-independent bone calcification [
]. Thereafter, numerous bioactive peptides
have been isolated, identified, and studied [
]. BIOPEP consists of both sequence databases
and tools for the evaluation of protein as precursors of bioactive peptides. Using this database,
several peptides with biological functions have been identified [
], from which ACE inhibitory
Dairy 2020,1238
peptides are the most identified ones [
]. However, other bioactive peptides with opioid,
antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and anticancer properties have also been presented. Bioactive
peptides can be isolated from dierent food proteins either through gastrointestinal digestion or
through fermentation using proteolytic lactic acid bacteria. Depending on their amino acid chains,
bioactive peptides, on ingestion, may significantly aect the body functions related to the digestive,
immune, cardiovascular, or nervous system. These amino acid sequences are specific to their actions in
delivering health eects. For example, peptides exhibiting antioxidative, antimicrobial, ACE inhibition,
and immunomodulation will possess specific known peptide sequence [
]. Some of these
peptides also exhibit multi-functional activities [
]. Hence, these bioactive peptides have been recently
used in several food applications for the development of pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and functional
foods [65].
3.2. Manufacture of Bioactive Peptides from Whey Proteins
Bioactive peptides or biologically active peptides are mostly produced through the use of dierent
enzymes through enzymatic hydrolysis. They can also be generated through food processing and
microbial fermentation using proteolytic lactic acid bacteria.
3.2.1. Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Whey Proteins
Bioactive peptides are mostly produced using dierent enzymes through enzymatic hydrolysis.
The enzymes that are most widely used are proteases and they can be specific or non-specific
to their target protein. Hydrolysis of whey proteins using enzymes is mostly preferred by food
manufacturers due to their short reaction time, the specific site of enzyme action, and the availability
of wide sources of enzymes (from animal, plant, and microorganisms). The most used enzymes
are trypsin, pepsin, chymotrypsin, and bromelain, and they have their specific reactions conditions
(temperature, pH, and time) [
]. However, for the maximum activity, the type of enzymes to be used,
the enzyme:substrate ratio, and their reaction conditions should be optimized before the hydrolysis.
The selection of enzymes is essential as it influences the cleavage site and patterns of the peptide
bonds. Enzymatic modifications are also known to produce peptides with more consistent molecular
weights and improved functional and biological properties of the hydrolysates. Various proteases
are commercially produced and used for generating bioactive peptides on a laboratory scale [
Sometimes, these enzymes, when used in combination, are shown to release more stable and eective
peptides [
]. Yamamoto and coworkers used enzymes to hydrolyze protein-rich food materials such as
fish, milk, meat, cereal, eggs, and soybean to extract bioactive peptides [
]. Those peptides exhibited
properties like being antihypertensive, opioid, immunomodulatory, antimicrobial, and promoting
mineral binding. Sarmadi and Ismail showed that hydrolysis of
-conglycinin and glycinin using
enzymes can lead to the production of active antioxidant peptides with R group amino acids [
They also reported that digestion through enzymes can also produce bioactive peptides with a low
molecular weight (below 1000 Da).
3.2.2. Microbial Fermentation and Food Processing of Whey Proteins
Food-grade bioactive peptides are mostly preferred to be produced through microbial fermentation
using proteolytic lactic acid bacteria (LAB). These microorganisms are commonly found in our digestive
system and are widely spread in nature. Lactic acid bacteria are generally used in food fermentation
because of their physiological significance and their role in influencing the texture and flavor of the
product [
]. During the fermentation process, these LAB are also able to break down food proteins to
produce biologically active peptides. Their proteolytic system comprises proteinases, which break
down the proteins to generate numerous oligopeptides (4–8 amino acids), an oligopeptide transport
system, a route to provide entry for nitrogen into the cells and peptidases, which completely break
down the accumulated peptides [
]. Compared to enzymatic hydrolysis, microbial fermentation is
considered to be more economical and is recognized as safe. LAB, being an ecient source of proteases,
Dairy 2020,1239
require minimal nutrition and expresses proteases on the cell membrane, which makes the enzyme
extraction and purification convenient and cost eective [66].
3.3. Bioactive Properties Associated with the Bioactive Peptides Isolated from Whey Proteins and Derivatives
3.3.1. Antioxidant Activity of the Bioactive Peptides
Oxidative stress in the body can lead to several disorders, such as diabetes, cancer, cystic fibrosis,
atherosclerosis, aging, and numerous other degenerative diseases. Whey protein is a precursor of
the antioxidant glutathione and exhibits antioxidant activity by suppressing the adverse eects of
stress factors. The release of bioactive peptides from whey proteins is shown to raise the intracellular
glutathione level and reduced the generation of
in vitro
interleukin IL-8 (cytokine responsible for
mediating pathogenesis in the respiratory tract) [
]. Supplementation of pressurized whey (20 g/day)
for a month was shown to reduce the C-reactive protein serum level in patients with cystic fibrosis [
Whey protein hydrolysates treatment, produced from alcalase enzymes, was found to contain two
peptide fragments, P4 and P4c (a pentapeptide containing amino sequence of Val-His-Leu-Lys-Pro).
These peptides exhibited antioxidant activity by significantly reducing the hydrogen peroxide exposure
to human lung fibroblast MRC-5 cells [
]. A diet (MHN-02) formulated with antioxidants and whey
peptides was tested for anti-inflammatory activity in rats. It was observed that the rats that received
this diet showed higher survival (90%) as compared to the ones fed with the control (55%). This was
due to the high superoxide dismutase activity (conversion of superoxide radicals to hydrogen peroxide
and oxygen) and less pathological lesions in the MHN-02 diet group [
]. The role of whey protein
derivatives in improving the glutathione synthesis in neurons and reducing the neuro-system disorders
was studied [
]. It was reported that whey protein isolates and native hydrolysates with antioxidant
and anti-inflammatory peptides, when added to human epithelial colorectal adenocarcinoma Caco-2
cells that was exposed to H
, both inhibited production of IL-8 and reactive oxygen species (ROS) [
However, the eect was comparatively higher for whey protein isolate treatment, which suggested
that the whey protein hydrolysates from isolates are more eective in alleviating inflammation and
oxidative stress in intestinal cells. Besides, these activities were observed to be elevated following
hyperbaric treatment. In one of the studies, rats were subjected to a high concentration of iron followed
by treating them with a placebo or whey protein diet to determine the eect on oxidative stress. After
6 weeks, the test animals showed an increase in lipid peroxidation and a reduction in the radical
scavenging activity. Whereas, rats that were fed with a whey protein diet exhibited a higher blood
glutathione level as compared to the control (iron overload) group. This suggested the ability of the
whey proteins to alter the high iron-induced DNA-damage and reduce ROS in cells [
]. Pseudomonas
aeruginosa is one of the known pathogens responsible for lung colonization and pulmonary infection,
leading to diculty in breathing [
]. Kishta and his team studied the eect of whey protein in
lowering pulmonary infection and found that mice fed with a pressurized-whey protein diet showed a
reduced level of oxidative stress, inflammation, and lung damage [
]. The potential reason was the
ability of the peptides to stimulate the leucocytes to kill the pathogens and protect the airway proteins
from oxidation. A whey protein hydrolysate, when administered in mice with paracetamol-induced
hepato-nephrotoxicity, was found to increase the level of antioxidant enzymes, like catalase, glutathione
peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase, but reduced the production of thiobarbituric acid reactive
substances (TBARS) and the oxidative biomarkers like phosphatase, glutathione pyruvate transaminase,
and creatinine [
]. It was also observed that peptide generated from chymotrypsin-hydrolyzed
whey protein exhibited a higher ferrous chelating capacity and DPPH radical-scavenging activity as
compared to the whey protein isolates [83].
3.3.2. Antihypertensive Activity of the Bioactive Peptides
The bioactive peptides from whey protein concentrates, isolates, and hydrolysates that have
angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitory or antihypertensive activity is strongly associated
Dairy 2020,1240
with the renin–angiotensin system. Therefore, foods with antihypertensive peptides should be regularly
consumed to control blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular disorders [
]. ACE plays an important
role in converting angiotensin I to angiotensin II (vasoconstrictor) in the renin–angiotensin system.
Besides, it also degrades bradykinin, which is a potent vasodilator. Although the structure–activity
interaction of the ACE-inhibitory peptides from milk proteins is not well defined, there is the possibility
that peptide binding to ACE is accessed by the C-terminal tripeptide sequence of the substrate or
competitive inhibitors, choosing hydrophobic (aromatic or branched side chains) amino acid residues
at each of the three C-terminal positions [84].
Many whey protein-derived peptides have been described to demonstrate ACE inhibition activity.
Whey protein hydrolysates (WPH) containing peptides derived from the
-lactalbumin (f 99–110)
fraction has been shown to demonstrate ACE inhibitory activity, specifically in the sequences (f 99–108),
(f 104–108), and (f 105–110). It was reported that the whey protein fraction (
-lactalbumin) (f 50–53)
exhibited antihypertensive activity at IC
M. Other dipeptides that demonstrated similar ACE
inhibition at an IC
M and IC
M include Tyr-Gly and Leu-Phe, respectively [
Tripeptides (Try-Gly-Leu) (
-lactalbumin f 50–52) are also shown to demonstrate ACE-inhibition in the
same range as that of the dipeptides. Whey protein hydrolysates derived from the
-lactoglobulin chain
consist of a mixture of peptides that are shown to demonstrate antihypertensive activity. Whey proteins
treated with trypsin enzyme liberated peptides with moderate antihypertensive activity, including
-Lg (f 22–25), (f 32–40), and (f 81–83).
-Lactoglobulin peptide (f 142–148) generated from trypsin as
reported by Mullaly and his team, exhibited higher ACE-inhibition eects with an IC
M as
compared to the peptides that showed ACE inhibition eects with a range of
IC50 =77–1682 µM [85]
Studies from Philanto-Leppala showed the most active antihypertensive whey protein peptide to be
from α-lactalbumin (f 104–108) with an IC50 =77 µM [86].
Neutrase enzyme hydrolysis of cheese whey protein generated a mixture of peptides, which was
shown to exhibit strong antihypertensive or ACE-inhibition activity. ACE is responsible for regulating
several biological processes and is strongly associated with cardiovascular disorders; hence, the role of
whey proteins in inhibiting the ACE enzyme is relevant [
]. ACE-inhibitory bioactive peptides are
generally below 1 kDa and hold 38% of the total protein content in the whey protein hydrolysate [
3.3.3. Opioid Activity of the Bioactive Peptides
Bovine whey protein fractions like
-lactalbumin (f 50–53) and
-lactoglobulin (f 102–105) contain
certain peptides that exert opioid activity. These peptides are referred to as
- and
-lactorphins [
These peptides have an anity towards the opiate receptor, inhibited by naloxone. These peptides
have an amino acid sequence of Tyr-Gly-Gly-Phe in their N-terminal and exhibit their activity to
the target cell by binding to the specific opiate receptors. The presence of tyrosine residue at the
N-terminal and the aromatic amino acids at the other positions play an important role in forming the
peptide structure motif that perfectly binds to the opiate receptors [
]. These receptors play a role in
several physiological responses, like the
-receptor for emotions and a reduction in intestinal motility;
the κ-receptor for food consumption and sedation; and the σ-receptor for emotional behavior.
Several process treatments can be applied to generate lactorphins from bovine whey proteins.
-Lactalbumin, when treated with enzymes like pepsin, liberates
-lactorphin through proteolysis,
whereas when
-lactoglobulin is treated with pepsin followed by trypsin, or with a combination of
trypsin and chymotrypsin, yields
-lactorphin. Furthermore, hydrolysis of
-lactoglobulin (f 146–149)
using chymotrypsin alone led to the production of
-lactotensin (His-Ile-Arg-Leu). Considering the
receptor-binding anity,
-lactorphin exhibits a weak but consistent anity whereas the
exhibits non-opioid activity when tested on the ileum of the guinea pig. Overall, these peptides belong
to the
-type receptor ligands, which displayed a low receptor-binding anity towards opioid receptors.
Both these peptides, when added in micromolar concentrations, were found to inhibit 3H-naxolone
from binding to the receptor sites. In contrast, morphine, which is a standard opioid peptide, was found
to inhibit 3H-naxolone in the range of IC
13 nM nanomolar concentrations [
]. Approximately
Dairy 2020,1241
0.9 g/L of
-lactalbumin and 3.0 g/L of
-lactoglobulin is present in bovine milk, which contributes to
the production of 30 mg of
-lactorphin and 90 mg of
-lactorphin. During
in vitro
digestion of milk,
these peptides get released to exhibit
in vitro
opioid eects. For hydrolysates, it was observed that the
release of lactorphins at concentrations of 5–14% was sucient to exhibit opioid activity in vitro.
3.3.4. Antidiabetic Property of the Bioactive Peptides
Diabetes is one of the critical health issues that causes several disorders, including vision loss,
angiopathy, and blood flow restriction, leading to tissue hypoxia and ulcers with reduced healing [
Consumption of hypoglycemia chemical drugs with a controlled diet can help to treat type 2 diabetes.
Dietary supplements with added whey proteins have been shown to demonstrate anti-diabetic eect
by reducing the serum blood glucose level in healthy individuals, improve muscle mass, and increase
the secretion of satiety hormones (cholecystokinin, leptin, and glucagon-like peptide 1(GLP-1)) and
reduce the release of ghrelin (the hormone responsible for hunger) [
]. It was observed that the
presence of cysteine, plays an important role in treating glycemia and controlling inflammation in
people with diabetes [
]. A study from Badr and coworkers showed the eects of whey protein on
type I diabetes-induced wounds in a mouse model. Compared to the untreated mice, it was found
that whey proteins significantly lowered the diabetic inflammation and wounds by restricting the
production of inflammatory cytokines and expression of chemokines (MIP-1
, MIP-2, KC, CX3CL1,
and TGF-
) [
]. Salehi and coworkers investigated the eects of whey protein and found that an
increase in the levels of insulin and amino acids, like valine, leucine, isoleucine, threonine, and lysine,
are the major causes for antidiabetic activity [
]. Whey protein derivatives (isolate and hydrolysate)
when supplemented in a fat-rich diet were found to improve the secretion of insulin, leading to the
lowering of postprandial triglyceride responses in type 2 diabetes subjects [
]. After feeding rats with
a diet rich in whey protein hydrolysate for a month, an increase in the leucine content and insulin
level was observed [
]. Results showed that the whey protein is metabolized in the gut and as result
peptides and amino acids are released, which are responsible for inducing the insulin level along with
the secretion of the gut and incretin gastric hormones. When the whey protein action was investigated
for reducing the glucose concentration, it was observed that the protein was able to strongly lower the
levels of plasma glucose, insulin, and C-peptide. However, it increased the levels of GLP-1 and PYY,
which tells that consumption of whey protein before a meal can lower the post-meal glycemia by both
insulin-dependent and insulin-independent pathways [
]. Tong and coworkers demonstrated the
eect of both whey protein and its hydrolysate fraction to exhibit anti-diabetic eects by improving the
insulin resistance in rat subjects [99].
3.3.5. Anticancer Activity of the Bioactive Peptides
Intake of whey protein has been shown in several studies to exhibit beneficial eects on cancer
patients. Reports have stated that whey protein hydrolysates confer an improved anticancer eect
as compared to other forms of whey protein. A study showed that rats with colon cancer, when fed
with a whey protein hydrolysate, demonstrated a reduction in the appearance of macroscopic and
microscopic tumors as compared to the rats that belonged to the control group fed with un-hydrolyzed
whey protein [100]. Whey protein was also reviewed for anticancer properties against the melanoma
B16F10 cell model and it was observed that expression of caspase-3 increased significantly in the media
containing whey protein isolate [
]. Caspase-3 is known to play an important role in mediating
apoptotic cell death [
]. In a 48-year-old Caucasian female, when whey protein at a dosage of
10 g (three times daily) was administered in combination with a weekly injection of testosterone
enanthate before and during chemotherapy, an improvement in the lean body mass, physical movement,
and overall quality of life were observed [
]. Another study demonstrated the protective eect of
whey protein hydrolysate on rat pheochromocytoma PC 12 cells with oxidative damage. A 20–30%
increase in the cell viability was observed at a dosage level of 100–400
g hydrolysate/mL as compared
Dairy 2020,1242
to the ones that were incubated with an infusion of H
. This suggests the potentiality of the whey
protein hydrolysates to exhibit antioxidant activities [104].
3.3.6. Immunomodulatory Activity of the Bioactive Peptides
Whey protein derivatives in the form of concentrates are known to improve the innate mucosal
immunity and deliver protection from immune disorders [
]. Public concern for atopic dermatitis
(a condition where the skin is swollen, scaly with itchy rashes) is continuously increasing worldwide
with infants being more susceptible to it. Recently, a meta-analysis showed that infants fed with a
hydrolyzed form of whey protein developed reduced symptoms of atopic dermatitis as compared
to the control subjects that were given plain bovine milk [
]. These results suggested that diets
included with whey protein might play an eective role to protect the infants from atopic dermatitis.
Another study in mice models showed reduced levels of the plasma (interleukin) IL-1
, IL-1
IL-10, (tumor necrosis factor) TNF-
, ROS (reactive oxygen species), and cholesterol after they
were treated with whey protein concentrate and examined for blood parameters, plasma cytokine
profiles, proliferation, and migration of immune cells [
]. Mice subjects given the whey protein diet
displayed significantly improved concentrations of IL-2, IL-4, IL-7, IL-8, and glutathione. Besides,
an improvement in the response of leucocytes, macrophages, and monocytes to dierent antigens was
observed. As compared to the control group, in the treated group it was observed that the cytokine CC
chemokine ligand-21 (CCL-21) and CXC chemokine ligand-12 (CXCL12) can attract the immune cells
and migrate the B cells, T cells, and dendritic cells towards them [
]. The bioactive eect of the whey
protein isolate was determined against psoriasis (a skin condition with thick skin, dry scales, and red
patches) and an intake dose of 20 g/day was provided to the patients. It was found that the glutathione
level increased and, following the inflammation due to the psoriasis, decreased with the consecutive
intake of whey protein [107].
3.3.7. Muscle Protein Synthesis by Bioactive Peptides
Heavyweight exercise and resistance training, as well as eccentric (muscle lengthening), concentric
(muscle shortening), and isometric (muscle non-lengthening) exercises can cause skeletal muscle tear
and damage and possibly can lead to internal inflammation (due to the production of inflammatory
muscle protein markers) [
]. Resistance training (heavy weightlifting) can lead to the accumulation
of oxidation products in blood plasma, resulting in leukocyte functionality [
]. Regular intake
of whey protein supplements containing amino acids like hydrolysates has been reported to repair
muscle damage. Ingestion of
-methyl butyrate, generated from leucine has been shown
to improve muscle recovery. Expression of glucose transporters in skeletal muscle in the form of
cell-surface glucose transporter 4 (GLUT-4) is known to control the rate of glucose transport in the cell
membrane, in response to insulin and muscle contraction. Hence, whey protein was investigated for its
capability to accumulate GLUT-4 in the membrane, which can lead to a reduction in glucose entrapment
in the muscles. The major amino acid and bioactive peptide in the whey hydrolysate contributing to
the process was found to be L-isoleucine and L-leucyl -L-isoleucine, respectively [
]. The eects of
whey protein on muscle functionalities like contraction, elasticity, extensions ability, and excitability as
compared to a casein-diet were reviewed. It was observed that the whey protein-fed rats with isometric
and concentric exercise injury recovered faster as compared to the ones fed with casein [
]. A whey
protein beverage supplemented with dierent doses of leucine and branched-chain amino acids was
shown to stimulate the synthesis of myofibrillar protein both at a high and low protein content and
at a 5 g leucine content [
]. Leucine contributes to 10% of the total whey protein amino acid and,
therefore, is more important for muscle protein synthesis and recovery. In a study, whey protein
hydrolysate was consumed for 12-week and it was observed that protein played a role in reducing
the muscle damage markers like creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase [
]. As compared to
soy protein, it was found that whey protein supplements are more eective in expressing leucine in
subjects undergoing resistance training exercises [114].
Dairy 2020,1243
3.4. Identification of Bioactive Peptides Isolated from Whey Proteins and Derivatives
Bioactive properties of the peptides are determined based on their amino acid sequence and
molecular weight. Mostly, the peptides are of short-chain length with 2 to 6 amino acid sequences;
however, some peptides with high molecular weight are made of 30 amino acids. Hence, to isolate
these peptides, firstly they can be passed through an ultra-filtration membrane of varying molecular
weights, such as 10 kDa, 5 kDa, or 3 kDa. Roblet and coworkers recovered peptides from a soy-protein
hydrolysate through ultra-filtration and screened them for their bioactive properties. He found
an improvement in the bioactivities following fractionation [
]. Another technique that has
been commonly used for separating and purifying these bioactive peptides is High-Performance
Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). Other methods, such as sodium dodecyl sulfate–polyacrylic gel
electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and ultra-centrifugation, are also implied for the characterizing the protein
and identifying the amino acid composition of the peptides. Recently, several other methods like
electrospray ionization (ESI), mass spectrometry (MS), matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization–time
of flight (MALDI-TOF) are being used to isolate, identify, and characterize the bioactive peptides.
Among these methods, mass spectrometry has been used to generate the peptide profile and determine
the molecular mass and amino acid sequences of the protein hydrolysates. It is also used to analyze the
protein conformational changes and protein degradation products [
]. The peptides generated can
be concentrated using ultra-filtration and size exclusion chromatography. In addition, to obtain the
protein structure-based functional properties, reverse phase HPLC is used to segregate the peptides
depending on their hydrophobic properties [117].
Haileselassie and coworkers extracted peptides from an enzyme-modified cheese. The peptides
were then passed through reverse phase HPLC using a Delta Pak C18 column [
]. In total, eight
peaks were generated (one from neutrase digest, five from neutrase debitrase digest, and two from
microbial enzyme from Lactobacillus digest). These peptides were purified and identified through API
mass spectrometry. In another study, antihypertensive peptides were extracted from soy milk and
fractionated into four parts (A–D) using a size exclusion chromatography [
]. It was found that,
among the fractions obtained, B showed the highest antihypertensive property. Using proteolytic
fermentation, three antimicrobial peptides were generated, and these peptides were later separated
using reverse-phase HPLC. The fractionated peptides were identified for their properties using a mass
spectrometry combined with MALDI-TOF [
]. Electrospray LC-MS was used to purify and identify
peptides from buckwheat protein that exhibited ACE-inhibitory activity. A UHPLC-Q-TOF MS/MS
method was developed to identify peptides from Mactraveneriformis hydrolysates. Four nucleobases
and one nucleoside were in total identified through the de novo sequencing based on the MS/MS
fragmentation [
]. There are also several databases, such as the BIOPEP bank, available that can be
used to generate information related to proteins and peptides [122].
4. Functional Properties of Whey Proteins
Functional properties of proteins refer to the physicochemical properties that play an important
role in imparting a specific behavior and performance to proteins when added in food systems.
The properties of whey proteins include thermal stability, hydration, gelling, and emulsification
properties, which influence the final quality of foods. These properties vary with the interaction among
proteins or with other food components and are strongly aected during preparation, processing,
storage, and consumption of the foods. Some of the processing conditions and extrinsic and intrinsic
parameters that influence the functionalities of whey proteins are shown in Table 3. Whey proteins
and derivatives vary in their composition and, hence, possess dierent functional properties. As a
result, they are used in dierent food applications.
Dairy 2020,1244
Table 3.
Processing conditions and extrinsic and intrinsic parameters aecting the functional properties
of whey proteins (sourced from [123]).
Processing conditions
Counter ions
Ionic strength
Reducing conditions
Storage conditions
Modifications related to physical, chemical, enzymatic, and genetic
Extrinsic parameters
Oxidation-reduction potential
Salts or ions
Intrinsic parameters
Protein composition
Monomeric oligomeric
Protein blends
Hydrophobicity or hydrophilicity
Surface charge
Bound flavor ligands
4.1. Thermal Denaturation of Whey Proteins
The thermal processing of food is greatly influenced by processing as well as compositional
factors. Processing parameters include temperature, pH, ionic strength, and rate of heating, whereas
the compositional factors include the lactose and protein content. Foods with whey proteins when
exposed to mild heating (40
C) lead to denaturation of
-lactoglobulin, whereas heating beyond
that (
50 C to 60 C
) leads to unfolding and exposure of the thiol group [
]. During the cooling
-lactoglobulin, in the presence of calcium, the protein–protein linkages are formed via disulfide
bonding and entropic forces, leading to aggregation [
]. At a low pH of <3, denaturation of whey
proteins can develop unique physicochemical and functional behaviors. It was reported that whey
protein concentrates obtained through ultra-filtration at pH 2.5–3 yielded proteins with dierent
viscosity and gelling properties before or after heat treatment [
]. Heating treatment at 90
for 15 min at pH 2.5–3 led to isoelectric precipitation of protein, which was very viscous with
reduced solubility and increased setting to form a soft coagulum [
]. Several research also has been
done on the unfolding of whey proteins following heat treatment. Investigations using dierential
scanning calorimetry (DSC) have shown the entire thermodynamics of the unfolding of whey proteins.
During heating (20
C to 110
C) of
-lactalbumin and
-lactoglobulin at a concentration of 3–9% and
pH 7, they are reported to have a transition temperature (Tt) of 65
C and 73
C at 10
C per min;
the Tt increased with the increase in the rate of heating. However, it was observed that increasing
the pH from 6.4 to 7.3 increased the denaturation of the
-Lg and reduced the Tt from 79
C to
74 C [127]. This suggests the ability of the whey proteins to unfold at increased pH and electrostatic
repulsive forces within the polypeptides. At a pH beyond 7, the thiol group of the whey proteins
gets exposed and as a result increases the thiol-disulfide interchange reaction [
]. Hence, increasing
the ionic strength conceal the exposed thiol groups, thereby increasing the hydrophobic interactions.
Some of these protein fractions can reverse their denaturation (renaturation) depending on the pH.
-Lactalbumin, being a small protein with four disulfide bonds, can reverse their denaturation by
Dairy 2020,1245
80–90% at 3–9% concentrations [
]. Kronman and coworkers reported that when the pH is lowered
to 3.75 or below, aggregates of
-lactalbumin are formed following heat treatment, and when the
pH is adjusted to 5.2 or above, the protein aggregation is reversed [
]. An acidic pH leads to
exposure of apolar amino residues that facilitate protein–protein aggregation, leading to the unfolding
-La. Protein aggregation is also dependent on bound calcium content and, hence, removal of
calcium during acidification leads to protein coagulation. The subjection of
-La to a reduced pH of 3
removes bound calcium from the molecule, making it more susceptible to irreversible heat-induced
protein denaturation.
4.2. Hydration and Solubility of Whey Proteins
The property of proteins to interact with water in dierent systems describes the solubility
or hydration properties of whey proteins. It is considered as one of the important factors in
whey protein preparations. Several physical and chemical characteristics influence the hydration
properties of whey proteins. Physical parameters include protein particle size, shape, agglomeration
state, and nature of porosity, and the chemical parameters include protein surface net charge,
hydrophobicity, and hydrophilicity [
]. Hydration properties play roles in optimizing both
processing and storage conditions [
]. For example, whey protein powders obtained through
controlled spray drying conditions to yield particle sizes of 150–200
m is most eective in improving
the hydration properties [
]. Determining the amino acid composition can help to estimate the
water-binding properties of pure proteins. Besides, other factors like protein structural conformation,
polarity, ionic strength, pH, and temperature also influence the water-binding capacity of the proteins.
Determining the solubility of whey proteins can help to decide their specific applications to food
products such as beverages. After precipitation of casein at isoelectric pH 4.6, the whey protein fraction
remains soluble in the supernatant. Hence, reduced solubility at pH 4.6 is usually used to analyze the
extent of the protein denaturation. Whey protein concentrates (WPCs) at concentrations from 5 to 100%
display a wide range of solubilities, and this is due to their dierent production methods. To obtain
an improved and consistent solubility, the whey proteins and derivatives must be produced under
processing conditions that lead to minimal heat denaturation and aggregation of protein components.
Currently, the spray drying technique is largely being used to produce dierent whey protein powder
forms. Therefore, the conditions associated with the spray drying method can be controlled and
optimized to produce powders with enhanced solubility. However, in some cases, the proteins get
partially denatured before the spray drying step and this mostly aects the functional performance
of the whey protein products. The eect of pH largely influences the hydration or solubility of the
whey proteins by altering the net charge of the proteins. Proteins possessing a net positive or negative
charge tend to dissolve in water as compared to the proteins having a minimal net charge (for example
in the isoelectric point). However, under certain conditions, whey proteins remain in the soluble form
at their isoelectric pH. Ionic strength also varies according to ion species and valency. In the presence
of salts,
-lactoglobulin remains soluble even at pH 4–5. Heat and some processing treatments often
lead to protein denaturation and aggregation, thereby reducing their solubility. However, the addition
of salts like sodium chloride at a 0.01 M concentration has been shown to improve the solubility of
-lactoglobulin when heat-treated at 80
C for 15 min. Increasing the salt concentration was eective
in increasing the solubility of the whey protein fractions by reducing the aggregation, and at a 0.5 M
concentration, the protein precipitation was completely inhibited [132].
4.3. Gelation Ability of Whey Proteins
Whey proteins have the capacity to form gels with dierent properties varying from soft, smooth
curds to viscous, rubbery, and stigels. Their properties dier based on hardness, cohesiveness,
color, stickiness, and mouthfeel [
]. Gels formed from a whey protein concentrate appears as sti,
transparent gels to curd-like opaque gels. Whey proteins with reduced protein concentrations and
a low ionic strength form translucent grey, weak gels. Mild heating of whey proteins can lead to
Dairy 2020,1246
specific protein–protein interactions, leading to the formation of gels, whereas extensive thermal
processing can lead to the formation of coagulation or curd-like gels. During gelation, a structural
network is formed within proteins in which the water is entrapped, leading to reduced syneresis.
The shape of the gel formed, its color, mechanical strength, and elastic properties play an important
role during food applications. Whey proteins undergo conformational changes when heat-treated
beyond its critical temperature, leading to form aggregates. These aggregates when cooled set to
form a soft to firm, clear to opaque viscous gels. The gel formation varies depending on the type of
protein, concentration, temperature, pH, and calcium [
]. Heat-induced gels are formed in two
steps, wherein the first step, the protein exposed to heat undergoes conformational changes through
protein–protein interactions and unfolding of polypeptide segments, leading to the formation of a
structural network [
]. However, a balance between the repulsive and the attractive forces are
necessary to form a three-dimensional network. In certain cases, limited protein unfolding during
heating leads to exposure of hydrophobic residues, which later associate with cooling. This forms a gel
network based on the number of interactive sites, their reactivity, and the amount of the repulsive forces
between the solute molecules. Hence, they are highly aected by pH and ionic strength. In protein
gels containing serum albumin, approximately 1–2 molecules of protein arrange themselves to form a
highly dense, viscous network depending on the degree of cross-linking [
]. In another study, gels
obtained from the whey fraction
-Lg at high and low ionic strengths contained protein aggregates in
the form of a continuous branching network [
], whereas whey proteins with lysozymes formed gels
containing straight, rod-like protein molecules arranged in small, irregular clusters with a bead-like
structural network [137].
4.4. Emulsification Property of Whey Proteins
Emulsions are referred to as heterogeneous systems formed by dispersing one or more phases in a
continuous phase and they can be stabilized by incorporating surface-active agents that are amphiphilic
in nature, i.e., they have an anity for the dispersed and dispersing/continuous phases. The main intent
to add an emulsifier is to reduce the interfacial tension and facilitate diusion of the dispersed phase.
Emulsion systems stabilized using a protein have an interfacial membrane formed around the oil droplet
to avoid any formation of coalescence, flocculation, creaming, or oiling-o[
]. However, to be an
eective emulsifier, the protein must be soluble and able to lower the interfacial tension at the oil/water
interface. Hence, factors such as pH, salts, protein concentration, and temperature play an important
role in protein adsorption onto the surface of the fat globule, influencing the emulsifying properties of
the whey proteins [
]. Emulsions formed of whey protein–coconut oil displayed reduced creaming
stability with enhanced viscosity and protein adsorption at pH 5. This suggests that the electrostatic
nature of the proteins largely influences the emulsion stability [
]. Besides, the availability of
the hydrophobic groups surrounding the fat globules also plays role in protein adsorption. Studies
suggest that whey protein-based emulsions can be improved through the partial unfolding of proteins
during emulsion formation, like while undergoing homogenization [
]. Whey protein concentrates
(WPCs) enriched with
-La and
-Lg were analyzed for their emulsifying properties in an oil/water
emulsion. WPC alone and
-Lg added WPC demonstrated similar emulsifying properties, which tell
that origin and whey processing have little to no eect on the emulsifying properties. WPC with added
-La demonstrated a moderate emulsifying capacity with reduced stability, indicating
whey proteins to be more eective emulsifiers [
]. In another study, emulsions formed from whey
protein–coconut oil contained more protein at pH 5 as compared to pH 7 at the interfacial surface.
At pH 9,
-Lg was strongly adsorbed and found to predominating, whereas at pH 3,
protein adsorption increased. This suggests that protein adsorption and their emulsifying properties
are extensively aected by the pH of the medium. At an alkaline pH, molecular expansion of
-Lg led
to more adsorption, whereas, at an acidic pH,
-La was found to adsorb more readily probably due
to the reduced stabilizing eect of the bound calcium [
]. The stability of emulsions and the role
of proteins as emulsifying agents were found to be correlated with the surface hydrophobicity when
Dairy 2020,1247
examined through fluorescent probe cis-parinaric acid [
]. Reduction in the surface hydrophobicity
significantly lowered the emulsifying capacity of the
-Lg and serum albumin (BSA), in proportion
with the extent of thermal denaturation. This tells that, both being hydrophobic in nature, BSA and
-Lg underwent a conformational change during heating, leading to the reduced anity of apolar
residues to hydrophobic sites. Emulsions with added WPCs also vary with the composition of the lipid
content, ash, and sulfhydryl content, and is often used to predict the emulsifying capacity of various
WPC samples in aerated emulsions.
4.5. Improvement in the Functionality through Conjugation
Whey proteins are one of the nutritionally beneficial systems enriched with amino acids and
bioactive peptides and, hence, popularly used in developing functional foods. Whey protein products
are greatly in demand for developing nutraceutical foods due to their several health benefits associated
with their bioactive properties, such as being antimicrobial, antioxidant, antihypertensive, opioid,
and promoting mineral binding [
]. However, the incorporation of WPH into food formulations is
not a trivial task because of their heat stability issues [
]. To ensure product safety and shelf stability,
most liquid foods and medical beverages undergo thermal treatments, and this can cause whey proteins
to denature irreversibly to form gels and aggregates. Besides, due to the poor emulsification properties,
the use of hydrolyzed proteins in developing formulated powders can be significantly aected, because
of the increased stickiness of the powder particles during the spray drying process. Moreover, the use of
whey proteins with high protein levels can lead to extensive fouling and blockage of the equipment and
pipelines. Sedimentation and gelation of denatured proteins, particularly during long-term storage,
show signs of unwanted sensory attributes in the final product. Developing value-added products
using whey proteins can create a lot of technical limitations, leading some producers to switch to
some other protein types. However, such proteins may dier in terms of their amino acid profile and
digestion benefits of whey proteins.
Recently, the stability of whey proteins has been addressed by several researchers, primarily
by conjugating them with carbohydrates. Heating of whey proteins or peptides with reducing
carbohydrates leads to a series of chemical reactions, referred to as the Maillard reaction, and it
is during the early stages of heating where a covalent bridge is formed between the protein and
carbohydrate molecules, and a conjugated protein is formed [
]. Conjugation of whey proteins
with reducing sugars via the Maillard reaction process (i.e., glycation) is an advancing area of interest,
with some previous reports showing improvement in the physiological, nutritional, and functional
properties, including thermal stability, solubility, emulsification capacity, water binding, and antioxidant
activity of the whey protein/peptide-based ingredients [147].
However, the main challenge with conjugation is that it can occur naturally or can be initiated,
which significantly influences the characteristics of the food products in terms of physical, chemical,
biological, and organoleptic properties. Furthermore, conjugation of whey proteins with reducing
sugars via the Maillard reaction is a very complex reaction process involving a series of processing
parameters, including pH, temperature, and time. Hence, scaling up of the process present serious
challenges as an insucient binding of the proteins to carbohydrates can lead to coagulation of proteins
and an uncontrolled Maillard reaction can lead to the formation of unwanted or adverse eects,
such as the formation of products that leads to the generation of o-flavors and toxic compounds [
Therefore, for wider applications in developing value-added health ingredients, the eect of the
dierent process parameters on the Maillard reaction, and their impact on the functional and health
properties of the proteins, need to be studied.
Dairy 2020,1248
5. Current Applications of Whey Proteins and Its Derivatives
5.1. Role of Whey Proteins and Derivatives as Food Ingredients
In food applications, whey proteins and derivatives are gaining attention due to their immense
benefits owing to several functionalities, including gelation, foaming, emulsification, solubility,
and thermal properties. The addition of the whey proteins is known to improve the food sensory
quality and enhance the texture. For example, whey proteins have been previously added to foods
such as yogurt, bakery foods, energy bars, pasta, and beverages to influence the overall quality and
nutrition of the foods. A study reported the eect of adding a complex of non-heat-treated whey
protein and high methoxyl pectin in low-fat yogurt [
]. The whey protein acted as a good fat-replacer
and texturing agent for the yogurt. Another study showed the ability of the whey proteins to stabilize
emulsions and improve the overall texture when added into whole-fat yogurt prepared from skim
milk powder. When the droplets merger was used, it yielded whey protein agglomerates with a high
molecular weight and reduced emulsifying capacity; however, when passed through a high-pressure
homogenizer at 20–100 MPa, it yielded a more stable emulsion [
]. In a study, the eect of the
addition of the milk-protein ingredients on the microstructure of probiotic yogurt (prepared with
a combination of commercial starter culture and Bifidobacterium lactis Bb12) was analyzed during a
28-day-period refrigerated storage [
]. One sample was added with sodium caseinate at the level of
2% and the other was added with a whey protein concentrate at 2%. It was reported that the addition
of sodium caseinate transformed the firmness, adhesiveness, and the overall viscosity of the product,
whereas the product added with whey protein demonstrated an improved water holding capacity,
viscous texture, and low syneresis as compared to the caseinate. Whey protein in combination with a
plant protein was added into a date bar and the nutritional profile was optimized applying a response
surface method (RSM) targeting the school children [
]. An addition of 6.05% of whey protein
concentrate (WPC) was found to be ideal. Several research studies are still ongoing to utilize whey
proteins and their derivatives to develop nutraceutical and functional foods.
5.2. Benefits of Combination of Whey Proteins and Derivatives with Other Supplements
Extensive hydrolysis of whey proteins using enzymes can lead to the formation of bitter peptides,
reducing their acceptability in food applications. Enzymatic hydrolysis breaks down the protein
fractions like
-lactoglobulin, and serum albumin to generate whey protein hydrolysates
containing bitter peptides. This bitter taste of the peptides are often masked using various inhibitors
and some of these inhibitory compounds include sucralose, fructose, adenosine 5
sucrose, adenosine 5
monophosphate disodium, monosodium glutamate, sodium chloride, sodium
gluconate, and sodium acetate [
]. Several techniques involve identifying the bitter peptides and
removing them to improve their sensory properties. Liu and coworkers identified four peptides
contributing to bitterness in a whey protein hydrolysate. Fractionation techniques (ultra-filtration and
chromatography) were used followed by LC-TOF-MS/MS (Liquid chromatography-time of flight-mass
spectrometry) to identify the peptides and the constituent amino acids [
]. Gad and his team reported
an improvement in the antioxidant and metal chelating activities of the whey protein concentrate
(WPC) when supplemented with freshwater algae, spirulina, in both
in vitro
in vivo
subjects using
rat models [154].
Application of whey proteins can also be limited as some of its components like
-lactoglobulin are associated with causing allergenicity, particularly in children. Some children
are found to develop gastrointestinal problems [
], atopic dermatitis [
], respiratory allergies [
or anaphylactic reactions [
] after ingestion of cow milk protein. Hence, it is important to assess
the allergenicity risks before the administration of whey protein diets. One of the eective methods
that were reported to reduce the allergenicity in whey proteins is heat treatment. Bu and coworkers
analyzed the antigenicity of
-lactalbumin and
-lactoglobulin in whey protein isolates through
competitive ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) after exposure to heat treatment [
Dairy 2020,1249
It was observed that, above 90
C, the antigenicity in the protein fraction decreased significantly.
Treating whey proteins with enzymes is also known to reduce the allergenicity [
]. Whey protein
concentrates were hydrolyzed with trypsin and fed to mice subjects. An increase in the secretion
of IFN-
was observed in the subjects, which suggest the ability of the hydrolysates to lower the
allergenicity of the whey proteins [160].
5.3. Role of Whey Proteins and Derivatives as Encapsulating Agents and Coating Materials
As consumers become more health-conscious, they are looking for natural ingredients rich in
nutrients inside their foods and beverages [
]. Hence, processors are responding to this trend
by continually incorporating healthy ingredients in foods or as supplements. Recently, bioactive
compounds (e.g., vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and ions, flavor, aroma compounds, lycopene, fats or
enzymes or bacterial cells like probiotic microorganisms) have emerged as functional ingredients,
leading to the production of novel formulations and value-added foods [
]. However, there
are several challenges faced during the application of these bioactive molecules [
]. As a result,
to overcome these challenges and considering the increasing demand for value-added novel ingredients
in food, food manufacturers started implementing the process of encapsulation [
]. These wide
ranges of active compounds can be encapsulated or packaged in a carrier material composed of whey
protein. The process of encapsulation involves the incorporation of any solid, liquid, or gaseous
materials, including ingredients, enzymes, cells, or other molecules in dierent carrier materials to
produce capsules of varying sizes [
]. This facilitates transporting the agents at the delivery site
and based on the strength of the carrier material, the core agents get released at various intervals.
Besides, entrapping in a whey protein gel is known to reduce rancidity issues and augment stability.
For instance, fortifying foods with iron presents numerous diculties, and to address this problem,
whey protein isolate was used, by utilizing its gelling properties. The isolate was exposed to cold-set
gelation to form a matrix, and subsequently iron was entrapped in it in the presence of ascorbate [
This led to improving the encapsulation eciency of the whey protein to recover more iron and improve
in vitro
bio-accessibility from 10% to 80%. The use of ascorbate contributed to strengthening the
whey protein gel, which led to increased recovery of iron and improved its release characteristics.
Similarly, a whey protein concentrate was used as an encapsulant to entrap folic acid. A favorable
interaction between the folic acid and the protein matrix was observed, making it a suitable matrix
for incorporating vitamins. When compared with a polymer (commercial resistant starch), the WPC
capsules imparted a higher stability to folic acid [
]. Whey protein encapsulants can also be formed
in combination with other carrier materials, such as carbohydrates and fats. A study demonstrated
the eciency of the whey protein isolate nanoparticle when combined with and without methoxyl
pectin [
]. The results showed improved resistance to homogenization and overall stability of the
encapsulants formed with pectin. Even during storage at pH 3, the nanoparticle suspension displayed
higher interfacial pressures as compared to encapsulants without pectin. Such encapsulants can
be potentially used as eective surfactants. An important benefit of the encapsulation process is to
prevent the reaction of the core ingredient with other food components, like in the case of essential
oils [
]. Besides containing several compounds like phenols, alcohols, esters, ketones, and aldehydes,
essential oils exhibit a wide spectrum of antimicrobial activity against bacteria, yeasts, and fungi.
Hence, to confer stability inside a food matrix, such oils can be microencapsulated using whey protein
derivatives as the carrier material. For example, WPI was used to encapsulate cardamom essential
oil [
]. It was found that the WPI microcapsules obtained had a spherical, regular, and smooth
texture and, during storage, it was able to retain the oil at a 30% concentration.
In a study, a whey protein isolate was transformed into an edible film with ascorbic acid
impregnated into it [
]. The film was then assessed for the oxygen-scavenging property. It was
observed that the tensile strength of the film improved with reduced oxygen permeability. This suggests
the ability of the WPI films to prevent oxygen diusion and eliminate oxygen in food systems, thereby
enhancing the storage stability of the oxygen-sensitive products [
]. Edible layering using whey
Dairy 2020,1250
proteins is also used to coat nuts to improve its shelf life by retarding the formation of rancidity in them.
A study showed the ecacy of a whey protein isolate to delay the oxidation and rancidity in walnuts
and pine nuts. The nuts coated with WPI generated improved sensory characteristics throughout
storage at 25 C for 12 days, as compared to uncoated nuts [169].
Whey protein-based packaging materials show great potential in replacing plastics and is one
of the most promising biopolymers. Recently, whey proteins have been widely used in the field of
active packaging to exploit their antimicrobial properties. Antimicrobial packaging refers to a form of
active packaging with antimicrobial compounds infused in it. These compounds get released when
used in edible films to impart an improved shelf life of the product. Whey protein isolate (WPI) edible
films with antimicrobial properties have been developed with infused essential oils (extracted from
spices such as rosemary, oregano, and garlic). Previous studies show the eciency of whey proteins to
improve the oxygen barrier properties and increase biodegradation when added in a compostable
plastic film [
]. Due to their high emulsification properties, whey proteins are also used in forming
stable emulsions. Cheese is often fortified with vitamins to enhance its nutritional value. However,
during the ripening period, the vitamins tend to degrade. Hence, to improve the retention of vitamins,
Tippetts and team studied the role of whey proteins to incorporate vitamin D3 in Cheddar cheese [
They formed an oil-in-water emulsion by adding sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, whey protein,
and vitamin D3 to obtain the final dose of 280 IU/serving. The nano emulsions were stable and about
74–78% of vitamin D3 was retained in the product. In another study, the ability of the whey protein
isolates to generate stable nano emulsions under various thermal processes and ionic strengths was
shown [
]. These emulsions were found to be stable under storage conditions even at higher protein
concentrations without the addition of any polymers like gums and polysaccharides as a secondary
layer. These results suggest the potentiality of the whey protein-based emulsions in the food and
pharmaceutical industries.
6. Conclusions
From the findings above, it can be suggested that whey proteins and derivatives are functionally
significant and have great potential in food applications. Whey proteins and peptides are now increasingly
endorsed by nutritionists as an excellent source of nutrition. Peptides generated from whey are being
incorporated in the form of ingredients in functional and fresh foods, dietary supplements, and even
pharmaceuticals to deliver specific health benefits. Whey protein products are currently the subject of
investigation for formulating new drugs and functional food ingredients for gut health and modulating
the intestinal absorption of nutrients because of their biofunctional properties. Most of the bioactive
peptides isolated and purified from whey proteins have good antioxidant, antihypertensive, anticancer,
antidiabetic, and hypocholesterolemic activity. After absorption, these peptides exert their action on
specific target organs. Such peptides, when enriched in diets, can be consumed by infants, geriatrics,
diabetics, cardio-risk groups, and athletes. Commercial interest in the production and use of bioactive
peptides has been increasing recently but industrial-scale production of such peptides is still not well
established. Some commercial products have been launched in the market, claiming a specific biological
activity and therapeutic effect. Besides, the functional characteristics of the whey proteins also play an
important role during applications in food systems. However, the data available does not truly reflect the
functional behavior of the whey proteins in food systems, which tells that in an actual food condition,
the components sometimes extensively interact to change the functional characteristics of the proteins.
With the continuous expansion of the market for functional proteins, there is a need to develop
simple cost-eective methods for the production, isolation, purification, and scalability of the whey
proteins and peptides in huge amounts for the market. The whey processors must determine useful
functional properties and demonstrate their eectiveness to be used as a functional ingredient so that
the whey products can be promoted and marketed based on their performance. Recently, to meet the
increasing demand from health-conscious consumers, food industries have started to explore protein
blends (a mixture of proteins derived from various sources like casein, whey, plants, microbial sources,
Dairy 2020,1251
etc.) for developing protein-rich foods and beverages. However, to make the concept feasible, there are
several technical and marketing challenges that are reported during the development process. Besides,
such products have been reviewed as less palatable. Hence, these preparations should be tested in
a simulated food system followed by an actual food condition to validate the protein behavior and
performance in commercial foods. Specific protocols should be designed regarding ingredient addition,
temperature, pH, and other processing parameters. Such information is necessary to facilitate the
appropriate processing methods during manufacturing to prevent compositional variation, the extent
of the protein denaturation, and other conformational changes. Routine tests for assuring the food
quality also should be of great value in providing information concerning the functional applications.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, S.A.; researching literature, S.M.; writing—original draft preparation,
S.A. and S.M.; writing—review and editing, S.A.; supervision, S.A.; project administration, S.A.; funding
acquisition, S.A. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
The authors acknowledge the support of the Agricultural Experiment Station (AES), SD State University,
and the Midwest Dairy Association fund 3X7431.
The authors would like to acknowledge the Midwest Dairy Association, Agricultural
Experiment Station, South Dakota State University, for supporting the work.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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... These results could indicate that AA behaves similar to a plasticiser. Finally, the oxidation of partially decomposed proteins and degradation of impurities in whey protein were observed around 320 • C. Degradation temperatures/stages of WPI are in agreement with the literature data obtained for other WPI-based materials [27][28][29][30]. ...
... Finally, the oxidation of partially decomposed proteins and degradation of impurities in whey protein were observed around 320 °C. Degradation temperatures/stages of WPI are in agreement with the literature data obtained for other WPI-based materials [27][28][29][30]. Regarding DSC results, two distinct regions could be observed ( Figure 3b): (i) a small endothermic peak at around 100 °C, attributed to water evaporation, and (ii) a major endothermic transition at the region of 225-275 °C. ...
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Whey Protein Films for Sustainable Food Packaging: Effect of Incorporated Ascorbic Acid and Environmental Assessment. Polymers 2023, 15, 387. https://doi. Abstract: The management of food waste and by-products has become a challenge for the agri-food sector and an example are whey by-products produced in dairy industries. Seeking other whey valorisation alternatives and applications, whey protein films for food packaging applications were developed in this study. Films containing different amounts (0, 5, 10, and 15 wt%) of ascorbic acid were manufactured via compression-moulding and their physicochemical, thermal, barrier, optical, and mechanical properties were analysed and related to the film structure. Additionally, the environmental assessment of the films was carried out to analyse the impact of film manufacture. Regarding physicochemical properties, both FTIR and water uptake analyses showed the presence of non-covalent interactions, such as hydrogen bonding, between whey protein and ascorbic acid as band shifts at the 1500-1700 cm −1 region as well as a water absorption decrease from 380% down to 240% were observed. The addition of ascorbic acid notably improved the UV-Vis light absorbance capacity of whey protein films up to 500 nm, a relevant enhancement for protecting foods susceptible to UV-Vis light-induced lipid oxidation. In relation to the environmental assessment, it was concluded that scaling up film manufacture could lead to a reduction in the environmental impacts, mainly electricity consumption.
... The production of a protein concentrate or isolate has been well summarized [72][73][74][75] and will not be detailed here. Animal proteins, especially dairy proteins, are concentrated by ultrafiltration [26] or diafiltration followed by optional evaporation of the retentate prior to spray drying ( Figure 2). ...
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The increasing occurrence of obesity and other non-communicable diseases has shifted the human diet towards reduced calorie intake. This drives the market to develop low-fat/non-fat food products with limited deterioration of textural properties. Thus, developing high-quality fat replacers which can replicate the role of fat in the food matrix is essential. Among all the established types of fat replacers, protein-based ones have shown a higher compatibility with a wide range of foods with limited contribution to the total calories, including protein isolate/concentrate, microparticles, and microgels. The approach to fabricating fat replacers varies with their types, such as thermal–mechanical treatment, anti-solvent precipitation, enzymatic hydrolysis, complexation, and emulsification. Their detailed process is summarized in the present review with a focus on the latest findings. The fat-mimic mechanisms of fat replacers have received little attention compared to the fabricating methods; attempts are also made to explain the underlying principles of fat replacers from the physicochemical prospect. Finally, a future direction on the development of desirable fat replacers in a more sustainable way was also pointed out.
... While concerning the tested AWP used in this study, the peptidomics structural content in the herein-used whey is mainly about 20 % of the total bovine milk protein. the major fractions of the content are; β-lactoglobulin (β-Lg), α-lactalbumin (α-La), blood serum albumin (BSA) immunoglobulins (Igs), and lactoferrin (Lf) (Hammam, Tammam, Elderwy, & Hassan, 2017;McIntosh et al., 1998;Minj & Anand, 2020;Walters, Esfandi, & Tsopmo, 2018). ...
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Excessive iron accumulation is highly toxic to various tissues. Acetylated whey peptides (AWP) obtained from bovine milk have a powerful iron chelating and immunomodulation effect. This study was performed on iron overload (IO)-induced rats' spleen model and announced that AWP can act as a potent prophylactic, natural, affordable, oral and safe iron chelator and can be used as an alternative to the current synthetic drugs. Moreover, it can alleviate oxidative stress and downregulate the proinflammatory markers. The results showed that AWP significantly decreased serum iron, splenic ferritin, oxidative stress markers (ROS, iNOS, and HO-1), and inflammatory markers (IL-6, IL-1β, and NF-κB). Histopathological examination declared that AWP reduced splenic iron deposition and improved histopathological changes in iron-overloaded rats. Immunohistochemical examination showed a significant decrease in macrophage markers (CD68 and CD163) expressions. The efficacy of AWP was compared to that of N-Acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) and both of them showed no significant difference.
... Glucose, a commonly used food ingredient, often presents in glass formers and readily crystallizes owing to its hydrophilic and nonequilibrium nature 21 . Whey protein isolates (WPI), which can effectively prevent the phase and state transition of glassy compounds, is widely added into food as a commercial stabilizer in the industry 22 . In this study, the glucose and WPI were chosen to composite solid-food model after lyophilizing, and the Debaryomyces hansenii (D. hansenii) was chosen as a target microorganism and inoculated in the glucose/WPI solid matrices for incubating 36 hours at a w ≥ 0.76 and 30 ºC. ...
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A classic problem in preservation is the microbes can grow in low-moisture foods. In this paper, the water sorption and thermodynamic properties of glucose/ WPI solid matrices were measured, while their molecular mobility was analyzed and associated with the microbial growth of D. Hansenii at various a w and 30 ºC. Although the sorption isotherms, T g , and relaxation processes of studied matrices were affected by a w and WPI , the microbial growth showed highly dependent on water mobility rather than a w . Hence, we introduced water usability ( U w ), derived from the mobility difference between system-involved water and liquid pure water explicating from the classical thermodynamic viewpoint, to describe the dynamic changes of water mobility in glucose/ WPI matrices. Despite to a w , the yeast growth rate was enhanced at high U w matrices concomitantly with a rapid cell doubling time. Therefore, the proposed U w provides a better understanding of the water relationships of microorganisms in food preservation.
... Moreover, the composition and biological function of the raw materials, protein isolates, and protein hydrolysates are significantly modified following several processing steps. Protein isolates are composed of large intact proteins that are enzymatically broken down in the digestive system (Minj & Anand, 2020). The generated smaller peptides are enriched with pre-digested protein hydrolysate, resulting in more exposed reactive groups, enhanced absorption and bioavailability, and added physiological advantages (Zaky et al., 2021). ...
This study evaluated the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacities of tofu fortified with mealworm (Tenebrio molitor larvae) proteins and their derivatives. The synergistic effects of plant- and animal-based proteins as well as the advantages of bioactive peptides were evaluated. Tofu was prepared by soy (S), by mixing in a 1:1 ratio of soy and mealworm powder (SM), soy and mealworm protein isolate (SMPI), and soy and mealworm protein hydrolysate (SMPH). SM, SMPI, and SMPH tofu had different proximate compositions, particularly in terms of their protein and lipid contents, compared to S. Mealworm derived tofus had a higher amount of essential, branched-chain, and total amino acids than S. The in vitro ileal digestibility of SMPH (94.10%) was significantly higher than that of S (58.35%), SM (64.64%), and SMPI (73.38%). Moreover, SM, SMPI, and SMPH had higher antioxidant and radical scavenging capacity and total phenolic content than S. Mealworm derived tofu had strong anti-inflammatory effects against lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interleukin (IL)-1β, and IL-6. Conclusively, tofu developed from mealworm and its protein derivatives can potentially be used to fortify traditional tofu; SMPH, in particular, has the most significant potential among all tofu variations in terms of functionality and nutritional value, providing added health benefits.
Whey proteins in bovine milk, as the most widely used nutritional components for infant formulae, have been paid more attention. However, the phosphorylation of proteins in bovine whey during lactation has not been thoroughly researched. In this study, a total of 185 phosphorylation sites on 72 phosphoproteins were identified in bovine whey during lactation. 45 differentially expressed whey phosphoproteins (DEWPPs) in colostrum and mature milk were focused on by bioinformatics approaches. Gene Ontology annotation indicated that blood coagulation, extractive space, and protein binding played a key role in bovine milk. The critical pathway of DEWPPs was related to the immune system according to KEGG analysis. Our study investigated the biological functions of whey proteins from a phosphorylation perspective for the first time. The results elucidate and increase our knowledge of differentially phosphorylation sites and phosphoproteins in bovine whey during lactation. Additionally, the data might offer fresh insight into the development of whey protein nutrition.
Functional foods are defined as foods and ingredients that exhibit health benefits beyond their nutritional value. Research on functional foods is increasing rapidly as they may help prevent and manage some non-communicable diseases. Whey proteins are recognized as a high-quality nutrient source and known to contain some bioactive components. They are rich in essential amino acids such as cysteine, branched-chain amino acids such as leucine, valine, and isoleucine, and bioactive peptides. Whey proteins look promising as a potential functional food, given its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, blood pressure lowering, anti-obesity, and appetite suppressing effects that is discussed in the literature. Whey proteins also show functional properties that play an essential role in food processing as an emulsifier, fat-replacer, gelling and encapsulating agent and are known to improve sensory and textural characteristics of food. This review focuses on the functional food aspects of whey proteins, associated health effects, and current food applications.
Food and agricultural by-products are leftovers or wastes from parts of foods, fruits, vegetables and animal sources which are obtained after processing. Agricultural by-products includes peels and rinds from citrus fruits, pineapple, mango, and banana. Other notable ones are pomace from apple, olive, red beet, and those from wine making. Also, whey from milk, straws, hulls, and brans from grains are among top agricultural by-products. These by-products often impact the environment and the social-economic sectors when they are disposed. But with the recent advances in biotechnology and scientific research, scientists have found usefulness in some of these byproducts as sources of valuable nutraceuticals, a term used to refer to chemical entities present in foods that has the propensity to impact health for disease prevention and treatment. This book entitled ‘Food and agricultural by-products as important source of valuable nutraceuticals’ presents detailed information about major agricultural byproducts that are rich in nutraceuticals. The nature and the type of nutraceuticals that they contains and their health promoting benefits were presented. The editors and chapter contributors are renowned experts from key institutions around the globe. This book will be useful to students, teachers, food chemists, nutritionists, nutritional biochemists, food biotechnologists among others.
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The incidence of sarcopenic obesity gradually increased in parallel with the aged population. This research examined the effects of whey peptide (WP) supplementation with/without resistant exercise (RE) on sarcopenic obesity. Male 8-month-old C57BL/6J mice were fed a control diet (10 kcal% fat) or a high-fat diet (60 kcal% fat) for 8 weeks. High-fat diet-fed mice were randomly divided into four groups: obesity control group (OB), RE (RE only), WP (WP only), and WPE (RE and WP). WP supplementation (1500 mg/day/kg B.W.) gavage and RE (ladder climbing, five times weekly, 8–10 repetitions, 10–20% B.W. load) were conducted for an additional 8 weeks. Protein and mRNA levels of markers related to energy, protein, and lipid metabolism were analyzed in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue by one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). WP supplementation regardless of RE significantly suppressed the increasing fat mass (p = 0.016) and decreasing lean mass (p = 0.014) and alleviated abnormal morphological changes in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue (p < 0.001). In adipose tissue, WP supplementation regardless of RE ameliorated dysregulated energy metabolism and contributed to the reduction in adipocyte differentiation (PPAR-γ (p = 0.017), C/EBPα (p = 0.034)). In skeletal muscle, WP supplementation regardless of RE alleviated energy metabolism dysregulation and resulted in down-regulated protein degradation (Atrogin-1 (p = 0.003), MuRF1 (p = 0.006)) and apoptosis (Bax) (p = 0.004). Taken together, the current study elucidated that WP supplementation regardless of RE has potential anti-obesity and anti-sarcopenic effects in sarcopenic obesity.
Abstract Epigallocatechin‐3‐gallate (EGCG) can improve functional properties of β‐Lactoglobulin (βLg) by conjugation. The effects of ultrasound, a useful tool in improving the conjugation efficiency, on the various functional properties of βLg‐EGCG conjugates were investigated in this study. Results revealed βLg‐EGCG conjugates transformed from cross‐linked state to fragments of various forms with ultrasound treatment with increased of binding affinity. Meanwhile, ultrasound increased secondary structural changes in βLg in the conjugated state. Functionally, ultrasound decreased the immunoglobulin E (IgE) combing capacity of βLg and enhanced its antioxidant properties by promoting the interaction between EGCG and βLg. Moreover, ultrasound induced an increase in hydrodynamic diameter and lowered the absolute zeta potential of βLg‐EGCG conjugates, resulting in an increase in digestibility, as well as foaming and emulsification abilities, while, a decrease in thermal stability. The results provide valuable information for obtaining βLg with better functional properties for industrial production by ultrasound‐assisted covalent binding of EGCG with βLg.
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This review aims to provide an in depth overview of the current knowledge of the effects of bovine immunoglobulins on the human immune system. The stability and functional effects of orally ingested bovine immunoglobulins in milk products are described and potential mechanisms of action are discussed. Orally ingested bovine IgG (bovine IgG) can be recovered from feces, ranging from very low levels up to 50% of the ingested IgG that has passed through the gastrointestinal tract. In infants the recovered levels are higher than in adults most likely due to differences in stomach and intestinal conditions such as pH. This indicates that bovine IgG can be functionally active throughout the gastrointestinal tract. Indeed, a large number of studies in infants and adults have shown that bovine IgG (or colostrum as a rich source thereof) can prevent gastrointestinal tract infections, upper respiratory tract infections, and LPS-induced inflammation. These studies vary considerably in target group, design, source of bovine IgG, dosage, and endpoints measured making it hard to draw general conclusions on effectiveness of bovine immunoglobulin rich preparations. Typical sources of bovine IgG used in human studies are serum-derived IgG, colostrum, colostrum-derived IgG, or milk-derived immunoglobulins. In addition, many studies have used IgG from vaccinated cows, but studies using IgG from nonimmunized animals have also been reported to be effective. Mechanistically, bovine IgG binds to many human pathogens and allergens, can neutralize experimental infection of human cells, and limits gastrointestinal inflammation. Furthermore, bovine IgG binds to human Fc receptors which, enhances phagocytosis, killing of bacteria and antigen presentation and bovine IgG supports gastrointestinal barrier function in in vitro models. These mechanisms are becoming more and more established and explain why bovine IgG can have immunological effects in vivo. The inclusion of oral bovine immunoglobulins in specialized dairy products and infant nutrition may therefore be a promising approach to support immune function in vulnerable groups such as infants, children, elderly and immunocompromised patients.
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α-Lactalbumin is a whey protein that constitutes approximately 22% of the proteins in human milk and approximately 3.5% of those in bovine milk. Within the mammary gland, α-lactalbumin plays a central role in milk production as part of the lactose synthase complex required for lactose formation, which drives milk volume. It is an important source of bioactive peptides and essential amino acids, including tryptophan, lysine, branched-chain amino acids, and sulfur-containing amino acids, all of which are crucial for infant nutrition. α-Lactalbumin contributes to infant development, and the commercial availability of α-lactalbumin allows infant formulas to be reformulated to have a reduced protein content. Likewise, because of its physical characteristics, which include water solubility and heat stability, α-lactalbumin has the potential to be added to food products as a supplemental protein. It also has potential as a nutritional supplement to support neurological function and sleep in adults, owing to its unique tryptophan content. Other components of α-lactalbumin that may have usefulness in nutritional supplements include the branched-chain amino acid leucine, which promotes protein accretion in skeletal muscle, and bioactive peptides, which possess prebiotic and antibacterial properties. This review describes the characteristics of α-lactalbumin and examines the potential applications of α-lactalbumin for human health.
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Thermal denaturation of β-lactoglobulin (at 90°C) at pH 2.5 was studied as a function of ionic strength (Γ/2=0.0-0.5) and protein concentration (0.25-9.0%). The rate and extent of denaturation were measured by (a) change in specific rotation [α]25/589 and (b) loss of solubility at pH 4.5. Heating at higher ionic strength and protein concentration increased the rate and extent of denaturation and resulted in different types of destabilized products. Heating at Γ/2≤0.3 resulted in gels and heating at Γ/2≥0.4 resulted in precipitates regardless of protein concentration. For the various protein concentrations, a curvilinear relationship was observed between the time of destabilization and ionic strength.
As an important nutrient, food proteins provide a source of energy as well as the essential amino acids for growth and maintenance of human body. Furthermore, many food proteins exhibit specific biological activities that can influence human health and prevent diseases. In this chapter, the bioactivities of food proteins on cardiovascular health, bone health, elderly population, weight management and satiety, and sports are discussed. Food proteins have been marketed as functional food ingredients for prevention of various life-style diseases and improving human wellbeing. The growing high-quality food protein market offers new opportunities for protein product development while adds new challenges on food protein research and innovation.
Water extractable arabinoxylans (WE-AXs) from different tissues of wheat exhibit large natural variations in their structure and are the basis of the functional properties of wheat in bread dough. The objective of this work was to characterize the molecular features of fine bran WE-AXs from two wheat genotypes (Triticum aestivum and T. durum) grown in field trials in Northwest Mexico, and explore their effect on the viscosity of flour-fine bran doughs. The monosaccharide composition and spatial arrangement of WE-AXs were influenced by wheat genotype and determined their molecular characteristics. Durum fine bran WE-AXs showed a low degree of substitution. Fine bran WE-AXs showed also a wider range of molecular sizes than the flour. The thermal stability of the WE-AXs were in the following order: durum fine bran < aestivum fine bran, and < flour. The lower arabinose/xylose substitution of WE-AXs was in accordance to high intrinsic viscosity, and produced a higher extensional viscosity of flour-fine bran doughs. These findings provide a additional knowledge about other important factors that affect the rheological properties of the dough, such as WE-AXs structure, which appears to play a more important role than expected.
The cow is the most efficient producer of milk. Cow’s milk is defined as “the lacteal secretion practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows, which contains not less than 8¼% of milk-solids-not-fat and not less than 3¼% of milkfat” (Federal Security Agency 1951). The average gross composition of cow’s milk is recorded as follows (Watt and Merrill 1963): water, 87%; fat, 3.6%; lactose, 4.9%; proteins, 3.5%; and ash (minerals), 0.7%.
Milk proteins are a good source of bioactive peptides (BAPs). BAPs can positively affect various health biomarkers in vitro. The role of milk protein-derived BAPs in humans was reviewed herein. To date, a limited number of BAPs have been identified in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and in the circulation at concentrations which may be sufficient to mediate in vivo bioactivity. While the outcomes of several human intervention studies have shown promising results, some studies have failed to demonstrate additional health benefits. This may be related to a low potency and bioavailability of the BAPs evaluated as well as confounding factors (i.e. genotype, health status and other sources of inter-individual variability). Universal guidelines for the evaluation of BAPs in humans such as adequately powered double-blind randomised clinical trials are needed.