Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods

A nutraceutical is any substance that is a food or a part of a food and provides medical or health benefits. Such products may range from isolated nutrients, dietary supplements and specific diets to designer foods, herbal products and processed foods such as cereals, soups and beverages which ultimately optimise health and nutrition.


Professor Nissreen Abu-Ghannam. Bioprocessing Technologies. 

Professor Nissreen Abu-Ghannam research area focuses on applying and optimizing bioprocessing technologies to maximize the extraction of high-added value ingredients for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical applications using the waste streams of the Irish agri-food industry and underutilized marine resources such as seaweeds. Prof. Abu-Ghannam research work is directed towards the development of sustainable and environmentally friendly methods, characterised as being Green, with potential to enhance bioactives extraction yield, reduce toxic waste material, environmental impact and time and energy consumption. Processing innovations will be vital in ensuring the ongoing competitiveness of the Irish food industry.


A functional food can contain an added ingredient that makes the traditional food functional e.g. probiotic bacteria added into traditional yogurt. Functional food are used in shelf life expansion, to enhance the retention of antioxidant compounds during food storage, bio-prospecting from dairy, marine, brewing, fruit and vegetable industries, fermentation and bio-prospecting of bioactive ingredients and genetic diversity and conservation.


Dr Jesus Frias, Dr Sinead Ryan (UCD) , Dr Hugh J. Byrne and Dr David Brayden (UCD). Improved delivery of natural selenium from the cultivated mushroom (Agaricus bisporus)’.

Improved delivery of natural selenium from the cultivated mushroom (Agaricus bisporus)’ The proposal uses a “smart” economy approach to a strategic sector of the Irish food industry by exploiting “spilling-over” Irish-based research know-how from the pharmaceutical drug delivery area to make oral nutraceutical formulations of natural selenium (Se) derived from mushrooms. The aim of this project is to isolate and purify mushroom Selenium by-products for formulation in oral nano-enabled drug delivery technologies in order to improve bioactivity and reduce toxicity.        


Dr Andrew Knox, Dr. Grainne Hargaden, Dr. Martin Hintersteiner. Development of a novel platform technology for extracting high-value proteins.

Using novel bioinformatics/cheminformatics and chemical synthesis, we are currently developing a novel bead-based platform for the extraction of high value proteins from food sources currently utilised in commercial production processes of the agri-food industry (PhD Candidate – Jamie Song).

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