Food Chemistry and Human Nutrition

The chemistry was not really my favourite subject at school.  But when you attach food to anything it just becomes exciting and important. Food is a necessity since time immemorial and today, it becomes the utmost priority to safeguard food and reduce its wastage. This is where food chemistry topics and impact factor comes into the picture. In countries like India, food is available in abundance, much of it is processed and the use of chemical additives is common. In this scenario, much concern is related to cost, quality, variety, convenience and the effects of processing and added chemicals on wholesomeness and nutritive value. Food chemistry is a discipline of food science which deals with the composition and all the properties of foods along with the changes that happen in it during handling, processing and storage. There are a lot of food chemistry journals that you can read for more depth and understanding like Elsevier.

It is closely related to subjects like toxicology, botany, microbiology, chemistry and biochemistry.

Major Concerns for Food Scientists


  1. Chemical properties of food tissues (flour, fruit, juices, isolated and modified constituents)
  2. Chemical properties of single-cell sources of food, i.e. eggs and microorganisms
  3. Quality and safety of food supply

The Approach of Food Chemistry:-

  1. Determination of properties that are characteristics of high-quality foods.
  2. Determining the chemical and biochemical reactions that have important influences on the loss of quality and wholesomeness of food.
  3. Integration of the above two points.
  4. Application of this system.

Quality and Safety Attributes:-

Food Safety is the most important requisite of any food science and food chemistry has numerous parameters to analyze the hazards. Food must be free of any harmful chemical or microbial contaminant at the time of its consumption. During the process of canning, “commercial” sterility, which is applied to low-acid foods means the absence of viable spores of Clostridium botulinum. Operational sterility is also observed in peanut butter manufacturing, which indicates the absence of aflatoxins in it.

Societal Role of food Chemistry

  1. Activities of food chemists influence the adequacy of the food supply and healthfulness of the population. It also impacts the cost of foods, waste creation and disposal, water and energy use, and the nature of food regulations. Because these matters impinge on the general welfare of the public, it is reasonable that food chemists should feel a responsibility to have their activities directed to the benefit of society.
  2. If food chemists do not become involved in techno-societal issues, the opinions of others—scientists from other professions, professional lobbyists, persons in the news media, consumer activists, charlatans, anti-technology zealots—will prevail.Two Clear Glass Jars Beside Several Flasks

Adulterants in different food products:

Adulteration of food: Food adulteration is purposely debasing the quality of the food either by adding inferior substances or by removing any important ingredient. We can assess the quality of food products by chemical analysis.

The data analyses all minor food components and/or pollutants of various origin, particularly food safety and qualitative parameters. The real prospects of food chemistry are to show a modern cross-disciplinary approach involving the contribution of numerous disciplines in the fields of food.

Nutraceuticals and Food Chemistry:

Nutraceuticals are an excellent example of this food chemical pattern in the sector.

nutraceutical product may be defined as a substance, which has a physiological benefit against chronic disease. They may also help in improving health, delay the ageing process, and increase life expectancy. We need to create a great interest in the use or reuse of food production by-products.  The regeneration of biologically active compounds, green growth and energy optimization also needs to be encouraged. The reuses of food and agri-food items will play a significant role in building a green economy. An additional challenge is to investigate and validate the mechanisms and modes of action of the active substances in food. And provide detailed chemical structure evidence and clinical data.

Role in Human Nutrition:

Basic nutritional aspects (non-modified foods)

  1. Additional Benefits
  2. Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals
  3. Consumer satisfaction
  4. Modern approach and fabrication

The food consumed by human consists primarily of the five major biomolecules namely carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, minerals and vitamins. All these biomolecules provide energy, sustainability, protection and life to the human body. On one hand, where carbohydrates, proteins and lipids providing energy, structure and sustainability. While minerals and vitamins protect life systems.

Effect of COVID-19:

The recent pandemic that has engulfed the world, the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Use of vitamin C, D and zinc has proven to facilitate and improve human immunity. With the help of food chemistry, the structures of various macro and micronutrients are known to the world for ages. The modern technologies have paved an impressive path for food chemistry.

Face Masks on White Background

Food chemistry and innovation in plant-based foods:

Plant-based foods since time immemorial have been the main source of all essential nutrients. Their benefits know no bounds.  Innovation in developing new plant made products not only serve the purpose of a healthy body, but also a healthy environment.

Metabolomics is characterized as a detailed quantitative and qualitative study of all small molecules in the system, whether a sample of cells, body fluids such as urine or plasma, tissues or the body as a whole. Metabolomics is a valuable solution to future agricultural and food production factors. For example sustainability, food quality, protection and nutrition etc. In plant-based foods, metabolomics allows the identification of sensory and nutritional content markers. Open-source databases, validation of markers and robust prediction models help translate descriptive information into relevant knowledge.

Multidisciplinary food chemistry:

One of the key challenges of food chemistry is to consider the molecular origin of reactions in foods. To do this, food chemists analyze foods by using chemical, biochemical, and molecular biological approaches. This clarifies the processes of food composition formation and decay describes both useful and unwanted compounds. It further distinguishes structure-activity and dose-acting relationships. This helps one to understand process chemistry and to lay the chemical foundation for technical advancement.

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