Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student knows and understands general and metabolic biochemistry and the basic elements of the biochemical and nutritional role of macro, micronutrients and nutraceutical components contained in foods commonly used in human nutrition. The student is also able to understand and interpret data useful for judging a nutritional biochemical problem and has acquired those learning skills which are necessary to undertake further studies with a high degree of autonomy.

Course contents


  • The molecular logic of life: fundamental characteristics of biomolecules. Covalent bonds and weak bonds: role of weak interactions in macromolecules. Outline of cellular organization.
  • Amino acids, peptides and proteins: Structure and functions of amino acids. Structure and functions of peptides and proteins: the four levels of structural organization. Outline of oxygen transport, hemoglobin and myoglobin.
  • Enzymes: the enzymatic catalysis. Activation energy. General structure and properties of enzymes. General mechanisms of catalysis. Cofactors and coenzymes. Michaelis-Menten equation. Enzyme inhibition. Allosteric enzymes.
  • Lipids and biological membranes: structure of lipids. Composition and architecture of biological membranes.
  • Carbohydrates: structure of the main monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides.
  • Nucleic acids: structure and functions of DNA and RNA.
  • Bioenergetics and metabolism: catabolism and anabolism. Organization and regulation of metabolic pathways.
  • The metabolism of glucose: glycolysis and its regulation. Fermentations. Gluconeogenesis and its regulation. Outline of the pentose phosphate pathway. Outline of glycogen metabolism and its regulation.
  • Tricarboxylic acid cycle: the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex. Krebs cycle reactions. Energy balance and regulation.
  • Electron transport and oxidative phosphorylation: Electron transporters in the mitochondrial respiratory chain. Oxidative phosphorylation and ATP synthesis.
  • Lipid metabolism: oxidation of fatty acids, beta-oxidation. Formation and use of ketone bodies. Biosynthesis of fatty acids. Outline of the biosynthesis of cholesterol and its regulation.
  • Amino acid metabolism: outline of amino acid synthesis and oxidation, transamination reactions and oxidative deamination and urea production.
  • Nucleic acid metabolism: notes on DNA replication, transcription, translation.


  • Food and nutrition: use and operational meaning of the terms. Food safety and nutritional safety.
  • Basic nutrition: macronutrients and micronutrients: definition and functions. Essential nutrients. Caloric value of nutrients. Nutrient and energy needs: LARN. Body mass index. Body composition and its modifications. Energy expenditure and its components. Food groups and nutritional characteristics of each group.
  • Taste, hunger, appetite and satiety: Smell and taste; Appetite; Peripheral factors that influence the introduction of food; Central factors that influence the introduction of food.
  • Carbohydrates: nutritional definition, nutritional sources, energy value. Role of available carbohydrates in the diet, minimum requirement and recommended requirement. Glycemic index. Outline of digestion and absorption. Unavailable carbohydrates: dietary fiber. Functional characteristics; Classification of dietary fiber; Role on health;
  • Lipids: classification and chemical composition. Nutritional sources and energy value. Fatty acids of nutritional interest: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, trans fatty acids. Lipid requirement. Essentiality of fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fatty acids: n-6 and n-3 families. Dietary cholesterol and endogenous cholesterol. Outline of digestion and absorption.
  •  Proteins: nutritional significance. Protein turnover. The nutritional value of proteins: concept of limiting amino acid, chemical score, biological value, protein complementarity. Outline of digestion and absorption.
  • Vitamins: nutritional significance and relationship with the metabolism. Fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, K, their biochemical action and deficiency, recommended needs, food sources and toxicity. Water-soluble vitamins: group B, ascorbic acid, deficiency, recommended needs, food sources.
  • Minerals: macro minerals: sodium, potassium and chloride; calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Trace elements or trace elements: iron, copper, zinc, iodine, fluorine, chromium and selenium. Food sources and bioavailability, recommended needs and deficiencies, toxicity.
  • Water: exogenous water and endogenous water. Water requirements in adults and children. Water losses of the organism. Total water content of the organism. Alterations of water balance. Water as a food.
  • Alcoholic beverages and nervine foods: alcoholic beverages. Absorption, distribution and metabolism of ethanol. Effect of ethanol on nutritional status, CNS, cardiovascular system, body temperature. Amount of alcohol allowed in the diet. Nervine foods: coffee, tea, cocoa. Effects of caffeine.
  • Nutraceuticals, functional foods, supplements, novel foods: evolution of food science. Definition of functional food. Examples of functional foods. History of functional foods. Definition of Supplement. Differences between functional foods, nutraceuticals, enriched foods, novel foods, food supplements and GMOs. Health claims and their definition by EFSA.
  • Nutritional labeling.


Biochemistry module

  • Fondamenti di biochimica di Lehninger - David L Nelson Michael M Cox, Ed. Zanichelli 2021
  • Conoscere la biochimica - Terry A. Brown Ed. Zanichelli 2018

Nutrition and nutraceutic module

  • Alimentazione e nutrizione umana - Mariani, Costantini, Cannella, Tomassi. Ed. Il Pensiero Scientifico Editore 2016

Teaching methods

Lectures with the help of PowerPoint presentations. Use of digital tools to verify ongoing learning (Socrative).

Assessment methods

The exam consists of an oral exam with two questions on the Biochemistry program and two questions on the Nutrition and Nutraceuticals part. To take the oral exam, registration through Almaesami is required.

Office hours

See the website of Cristina Angeloni