Muthupandian Ashokkumar at the University of Melbourne in Australia, along with Francesca Cavalieri, Meifang Zhou, and Srinvas Mettu, will produce edible microballoons made from protein that contain essential nutrients for adding to common foods to combat malnutrition in mothers and infants. Encapsulating the nutrients, rather than adding them directly to food, helps keep them stable and promotes their absorption in the body. It can also mask unpleasant tastes, and control the timing and location of nutrient release, which can increase their performance. They have developed a method that uses ultrasound waves to encapsulate oil- and water-soluble vitamins and minerals within edible shells made from a range of proteins including milk and pea proteins. They will analyze the stability and strength of microballoons made from different materials that contain the recommended daily doses of nutrients for mothers and infants. They will also develop methods to encapsulate water, which could be used to reduce the fat content of fat-rich products.
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