NNEK16003U Bioactive Food Components and Health

Volume 2024/2025

MSc Programme in Biotechnology
MSc Programme in Food Innovation and Health
MSc Programme in Human Nutrition


This course contains a series of lectures and exercises followed by a group work assignment and mandatory student presentations before the exam. Lectures start with an introduction to the area, its basic vocabulary and scientific methodologies. Then additional lectures will exemplify plant food, dairy and meat bioactive components, shortly touching upon their functionality in the food organism but with a main focus on their bioavailability, biotransformation, and bioactivities after consumption in humans at the physiological, nutritional and biochemical level. Also the scientific methodologies used to investigate such actions are detailed with respect to study designs and biomarkers. At least 8 of the following themes for lectures and theoretical exercises will typically be covered but others may also be added:

  • Overview of basic concepts in evaluation of bioactivity and functionality, including demands on scientific documentation for health claims and basics of chemical safety evaluation.
  • Overview of plant foods and health.
  • Relationship between special plant components and taste, interactions in taste.
  • Vegetables and their bioactive constituents: Crucifers including cabbage, mustards and watercress, onion, garlic, carrots, asparagus, parsnip, tomato, green leafy vegetables
  • Fruit and their bioactive constituents: Stone fruit, pomes, citrus  , grapes, strawberry, blueberry, craneberry,.
  • Bioactive components in plant cell walls, cereals and wholegrain, and legumes.
  • Bioactive components in spices
  • Bioactive components in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Dairy products and their bioactive constituents.
  • Meat and fish products and their bioactive constituents.
  • Probiotics.
  • Innovation and sustainability aspects of bioactive foods.
  • Evaluation of health claims on foods in the EU and other countries.

Following the lectures student group work will take place related to health claims on foods in the EU. The student groups will present their evaluation of a health claim orally to be eligible for the exam.

Learning Outcome

The course will give examples of specific non-nutritive components in foods and their possible mechanisms of action. The course is the only one in these educational programmes giving a systematic overview of non-nutritive bioactive components. The course will give a critical insight into the meaning of bioactivity and functional components, an important aspect of formulating health claims to improve innovation. It also aims to give a more in-depth insight into the health effects of many common foods, beverages and spices. After completing the course the student competences should include:



  • Describing the most common types of bioactive compounds and components in foods, beverages and spices, and their modes of action in the human body.
  • Knowing the most important laboratory methods and study designs to evaluate typical health effects of foods.
  • Knowing the use of biomarkers of exposure, susceptibility and biological effect.
  • Referring to the formal scientific demands for placing a health claim on a food product, - an important criterium for applying innovative activities in the biotechnology field.
  • Describing demands on innovating foods in relation to health.



  • Critically assessing methods, results, and conclusions in scientific papers related to bioactive compounds, human health and innovation.



  • Working independently and analytically with scientific literature.
  • Critical oral and written presentation at a high scientific level.
  • Insights into what it takes to bring a health-promoting product to the market.

Course literature will be announced at study start and during the course on the course home page (Absalon/ Canvas).

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is needed.
In each session there will first be lectures in a general subject or on a specific group of foods with examples of potentially active ingredient groups related to one or more commonly reported actions in humans. Lectures will be followed by theoretical exercises, typically including critical reading of original articles on the day’s theme followed by plenary discussions or short individual or group presentations.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 24
  • Preparation
  • 133
  • Theory exercises
  • 48
  • Exam
  • 1
  • Total
  • 206
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

At the group work presentations late in the course we use a combination of structured peer feedback from other students and oral feedback from the superviser.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 minutes
Type of assessment details
Oral examination on project work and course content.
Exam registration requirements

In order to participate in the exam it is mandatory to participate in the group work and to provide written and oral presentations of the work.

All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Internal grading. More assessors.

As ordinary.

If the requirement is not met, the student must contact Course Coordinator. Student project presentation must take place no later than 3 weeks before the reexamination.

Criteria for exam assesment

Please see "Learning Outcome"