Recent Advances in Food Emulsions and Engineering Foodstuffs Using Plant-Based Nanocelluloses

Long Bai*, Siqi Huan, Ya Zhu, Guang Chu, David Julian McClements, Orlando J. Rojas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, the application of nanocelluloses, especially cellulose nanofibrils and cellulose nanocrystals, as functional ingredients in foods is reviewed. These ingredients offer a sustainable and economic source of natural plant-based nanoparticles. Nanocelluloses are particularly suitable for altering the physicochemical, sensory, and nutritional properties of foods because of their ability to create novel structures. For instance, they can adsorb to air-water or oil-water interfaces and stabilize foams or emulsions, self-assemble in aqueous solutions to form gel networks, and act as fillers or fat replacers. The functionality of nanocelluloses can be extended by chemical functionalization of their surfaces or by using them in combination with other natural food ingredients, such as biosurfactants or biopolymers. As a result, it is possible to create stimuli-responsive, tailorable, and/or active functional biomaterials suitable for a range of foodapplications. In this article, we describe the chemistry, structure, and physicochemical properties of cellulose as well as their relevance for the application of nanocelluloses as functional ingredients in foods. Special emphasis is given to their use as particle stabilizers in Pickering emulsions, but we also discuss their potential application for creating innovative biomaterials with novel functional attributes, such as edible films and packaging. Finally, some of the challenges associated with using nanocelluloses in foods are critically evaluated, including their potential safety and consumer acceptance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-406
Number of pages24
JournalAnnual Review of Food Science and Technology
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2021
MoE publication typeA2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review


  • plant nanocellulose
  • cellulose nanocrystals
  • cellulose nanofibrils
  • Pickering stabilization
  • functional foods


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