Functional microorganisms for functional food quality.
Di Cagno R
De Angelis M
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Functional microorganisms and health benefits represent a binomial with great potential for fermented functional foods. The health benefits of fermented functional foods are expressed either directly through the interactions of ingested live microorganisms with the host (probiotic effect) or indirectly as the result of the ingestion of microbial metabolites synthesized during fermentation (biogenic effect). Since the importance of high viability for probiotic effect, two major options are currently pursued for improving it—to enhance bacterial stress response and to use alternative products for incorporating probiotics (e.g., ice cream, cheeses, cereals, fruit juices, vegetables, and soy beans). Further, it seems that quorum sensing signal molecules released by probiotics may interact with human epithelial cells from intestine thus modulating several physiological functions. Under optimal processing conditions, functional microorganisms contribute to food functionality through their enzyme portfolio and the release of metabolites. Overproduction of free amino acids and vitamins are two classical examples. Besides, bioactive compounds (e.g., peptides, γ-amino butyric acid, and conjugated linoleic acid) may be released during food processing above the physiological threshold and they may exert various in vivo health benefits. Functional microorganisms are even more used in novel strategies for decreasing phenomenon of food intolerance (e.g., gluten intolerance) and allergy. By a critical approach, this review will aim at showing the potential of functional microorganisms for the quality of functional foods.
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