The oral bioavailability of many hydrophobic bioactive compounds found in natural food products (such as vitamins and nutraceuticals in fruits and vegetables) is relatively low due to their low bioaccessibility, chemical instability, or poor absorption. Most previous research has therefore focused on the design of delivery systems to incorporate isolated bioactive compounds into food products. However, a more sustainable and cost-effect approach to enhancing the functionality of bioactive compounds is to leave them within their natural environment, but specifically design excipient foods that enhance their bioavailability. Excipient foods
typically do not have functionality themselves but they have the capacity to enhance the functionality of nutrients present in natural foods by altering their bioaccessibility, absorption, and/or chemical transformation. In this review article we present the use of excipient nanoemulsions for increasing the bioavailability of bioactive components from fruits and vegetables. Nanoemulsions present several advantages over other food systems for this application, such as the ability to incorporate hydrophilic, amphiphilic, and lipophilic excipient ingredients, high physical stability, and rapid gastrointestinal digestibility. The design, fabrication, and application of nanoemulsions as excipient foods will therefore be described in this article.
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