Peptides in food are small proteins that are derived from foods and other substances. They play a significant role in the normal functioning of the human body.
Many bioactive peptides are found in various foods such as milk, eggs, blood, gelatine and meat. Some of these peptides are thought to have antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
The health benefits of peptides are not well understood, but research is ongoing. Scientists are interested in the potential use of peptides for prevention and treatment of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and obesity.
Some of these peptides are even used to enhance athletic performance by building strength and muscle mass.
Moreover, peptides can also be used for weight loss and gastrointestinal problems.
These peptides have different bioactivities, and their activities can vary based on the amino acid sequence, size, hydrophobicity and charge of the peptides as well as the hydrolysis conditions (231). In order to develop functional food products, they need to be purified and confirmed via in vivo studies and human trials.
A major challenge in developing functional foods is to keep peptides intact during gastrointestinal digestion and epithelial transportation and absorption. This is because a large number of peptides undergo structural modification during these processes and their bioactivity would decrease.