Bioactive food components have potential health benefits but are highly susceptible for degradation under adverse conditions such as light, pH, temperature and oxygen. Furthermore, they are known to have poor solubilities, low stabilities and low bioavailabilities in the gastrointestinal tract. Hence, technologies that can retain, protect and enable their targeted delivery are significant to the food industry. Amongst these, microencapsulation of bioactives has emerged as a promising technology. The present review evaluates the potential use of casein micelles (CMs) as a bioactive delivery system. The review discusses in depth how physicochemical and techno-functional properties of CMs can be modified by secondary processing parameters in making them a choice for the delivery of food bioactives in functional foods. CMs are an assembly of four types of caseins, (αs1
, β and κ casein) with calcium phosphate. They possess hydrophobic and hydrophilic properties that make them ideal for encapsulation of food bioactives. In addition, CMs have a self-assembling nature to incorporate bioactives, remarkable surface activity to stabilise emulsions and the ability to bind hydrophobic components when heated. Moreover, CMs can act as natural hydrogels to encapsulate minerals, bind with polymers to form nano capsules and possess pH swelling behaviour for targeted and controlled release of bioactives in the GI tract. Although numerous novel advancements of employing CMs as an effective delivery have been reported in recent years, more comprehensive studies are required to increase the understanding of how variation in structural properties of CMs be utilised to deliver bioactives with different physical, chemical and structural properties.
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