The aim of this work was to investigate the impact of mesoporous silica particles (MSPs) on the physicochemical properties of filled protein gels. We have studied the effect of the addition of different mesoporous silica particles, either bare or functionalized with amines or carboxylates, on the physical properties of gelatine gels (5% w/v). Textural properties of the filled gels were investigated by uniaxial compression, while optical properties were investigated by turbidity. The MSPs were characterized with the objective of correlating particle features with their impact on the corresponding filled-gel properties. The addition of MSPs (both with and without functionalization) increased the stiffness of the gelatine gels. Furthermore, functionalized MSPs showed a remarkable increase in the strength of the gels and a slight reduction in the brittleness of the gels, in contrast with nonfunctionalized MSPs which showed no effect on these two properties. The turbidity of the gels was also affected by the addition of all tested MSPs, showing that the particles that formed smaller aggregates resulted in a higher contribution to turbidity. MSPs are promising candidates for the development of functional food containing smart delivery systems, also being able to modulate the functionality of protein gels.
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