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General Literature Reviews


Functional properties of whey, whey components, and essential amino acids: mechanisms underlying health benefits for active people (review).
Ha E, Zemel MB. (2003)


Whey components: millennia of evolution create functionalities for mammalian nutrition: what we know and what we may be overlooking.
Walzem RL, et al. (2002)


Functional properties of whey, whey components, and essential amino acids: mechanisms underlying health benefits for active people (review).


Journal: J Nutr Biochem. 2003 May;14(5):251-8.


Authors: Ha E, Zemel MB.


Functional Ingredients Research, Inc, Twin Falls, Idaho, USA.


Abstract: Whey proteins and amino acid supplements have a strong position in the sports nutrition market based on the purported quality of proteins and amino acids they provide. Recent studies employing stable isotope methodology demonstrate the ability of whey proteins or amino acid mixtures of similar composition to promote whole body and muscle protein synthesis. Other developing avenues of research explore health benefits of whey that extend beyond protein and basic nutrition. Many bioactive components derived from whey are under study for their ability to offer specific health benefits. These functions are being investigated predominantly in tissue culture systems and animal models. The capacity of these compounds to modulate adiposity, and to enhance immune function and anti-oxidant activity presents new applications potentially suited to the needs of those individuals with active lifestyles. This paper will review the recent literature that describes functional properties of essential amino acids, whey proteins, whey-derived minerals and other compounds and the mechanisms by which they may confer benefits to active people in the context that exercise is a form of metabolic stress. The response to this stress can be positive, as with the accretion of more muscle and improved functionality or greater strength. However, overall benefits may be compromised if immune function or general health is challenged in response to the stress. From a mechanistic standpoint, whey proteins, their composite amino acids, and/or associated compounds may be able to provide substrate and bioactive components to extend the overall benefits of physical activity.


Whey components: millennia of evolution create functionalities for mammalian nutrition: what we know and what we may be overlooking.


Journal: Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2002 Jul;42(4):353-75.


Authors: Walzem RL, Dillard CJ, German JB.


Faculty of Nutrition, Texas A & M University, College Station 77843, USA.


Abstract: Nutrition is undergoing a revolution owing to the recognition that some foods contain trophic, health-promoting factors distinct from essential nutrients. In this revolution, whey is increasingly being viewed as more than a source of proteins with a particularly nutritious composition of essential amino acids. Milk evolved under continuous Darwinian selection pressure to nourish mammalian neonates. Evolutionary pressure appears to have led to the elaboration of a complex food that contains proteins, peptides, complex lipids, and oligosaccharides that act as growth factors, toxin-binding factors, antimicrobial peptides, prebiotics, and immune regulatory factors within the mammalian intestine. Importantly, these trophic macromolecules are not essential, although the health benefits that their biological activities within the intestine provide likely contributed to neonatal survival. Human and bovine milks contain many homologous components, and bovine whey may prove to be a source for molecules capable of providing biological activities to humans when consumed as food ingredients. To approach this potential, food and nutrition research must move beyond the description of food ingredients as delivering only essential nutrients and develop a mechanistic understanding of the interactions between dietary components and the metabolic and physiological properties of the intestine.


Marschall Rhône-Poulenc Award Lecture. Nutritional and functional characteristics of whey proteins in food products.


Journal: J Dairy Sci. 1998 Mar;81(3):597-608.


Authors: de Wit JN.


Centre for Protein Technology Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands.



Whey proteins are well known for their high nutritional value and versatile functional properties in food products. Estimates of the worldwide production of whey indicate that about 700,000 tonnes of true whey proteins are available as valuable food ingredients. Nutritional and functional characteristics of whey proteins are related to the structure and biological functions of these proteins. During recent decades, interest has grown in the nutritional efficacy of whey proteins in infant formula and in dietetic and health foods, using either native or predigested proteins. This paper focuses attention on the differences and similarities in composition of human and bovine milks with reference to infant formula. More desirable milk protein composition for consumption by humans is obtained by the addition of lactoferrin and more specific fractionations of proteins from bovine milk. Optimization of heating processes is important to minimize the destruction of milk components during fractionation and preservation processes. Some functional characteristics of whey proteins are discussed in relation to their properties for application in food products. Information obtained from functional characterization tests in model systems is more suitable to explain retroactively protein behavior in complex food systems than to predict functionality.