The marine environment contains a wide range of biological and chemical diversity. A number of materials derived from the marine environment have historically been used as food ingredients, the most well known being the marine polysaccharides carrageenan, alginate and agar. However, more recently bioactive substances, particularly marine oils and glucosamine, have been added to foods to provide additional health benefits. Functional foods containing omega-3 fats in particular are widely consumed with several hundred new products being introduced worldwide each year. Research on omega-3 fatty acids for functional food includes formulation, stabilization, microencapsulation and research into various forms such as phospholipids, triglyceride and ethyl esters. In additional the omega-3 fats and glucosamine a variety of other marine materials are being developed as functional food ingredients. These include bioactive peptides derived from fish muscle, such as ACE inhibitors, bioactive gelatine and collagen compounds, and material from shellfish, particularly chitin, chitosan and oligo-chitosan.
This special issue of Marine Drugs is devoted to “Marine Functional Food”. The aim of this issue is to present recent advances in the discovery, development and formulation of marine materials as functional food ingredients. Manuscripts in this special issue will cover a number of aspects of recent developments in the field.