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Nutritional Improvement of Fresh Cheese with Microalga Chlorella vulgaris: Impact on Composition, Structure and Sensory Acceptance

Rita Lousada Falcão1orcid tiny, Valentina Pinheiro2orcid tiny, Cátia Ribeiro2orcid tiny, Isabel Sousa1orcid tiny, Anabela Raymundo1orcid tiny and Maria Cristiana Nunes1*orcid tiny

1LEAF - Linking Landscape, Environment, Agriculture and Food Research Center, Associated Laboratory TERRA, School of Agriculture, University of Lisbon, Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-017 Lisboa, Portugal

2Queijos Santiago, Montemuro Apartado 51, 2669-909, Malveira, Portugal

Article history:

Received: 4 July 2022

Accepted: 7 April 2023

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Chlorella vulgaris; microalgae; cheese; nutrition; texture

E WEB Goal 03 E WEB Goal 12The content of this publication has not been approved by the United Nations and does not reflect the views of the United Nations or its officials or Member States.


Research backgroundThe production of foods fortified with bioactive ingredients has been recognized by food companies as a way to position their products in health food markets. The fortification of cheese represents a major challenge, due to the chemical and structural complexity of the cheese matrix, as well as the complexity of the biochemical reactions occurring during the fermentation and maturation processes. Microalgae are nutritious and sustainable food sources with important bioactive compounds such as proteins, polyunsaturated fatty acids, polysaccharides, chlorophylls, carotenoids, vitamins and minerals.

Experimental approachThis work aims to study the impact of the 2 to 4 % microalga Chlorella vulgaris addition on the nutritional composition, bioactivity, structure and sensory profile of quark and cream cheese, both probiotic fermented products. Texture profile analysis and fundamental rheology measurements (oscillatory and stationary) were performed to evaluate the impact of C. vulgaris on the mechanical properties of the fresh cheese. The nutritional composition was evaluated using standard methods and bioactivity through the determination of total phenolic compounds and antioxidant capacity.

Results and conclusionsC. vulgaris had an impact on the firmness of both cheeses. In general, the cheese with added C. vulgaris had a better nutritional profile, with an increase in protein content, content of Mg, P, S, Cu, Zn, Fe and Mn, and better bioactivity with an increase in the antioxidant activity. Sensory testing results were promising, especially for cream cheese.

Novelty and scientific contribution. The enrichment of traditional foods such as fresh cheese with microalgae represents an interesting strategy to develop hybrid products (with protein from animal and vegetable sources), obtain innovative and more sustainable products, and improve their nutritional profile in terms of protein and mineral content and bioactivity.

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