A wide range of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) is able to produce capsular or extracellular polysaccharides, with various chemical compositions and properties. Polysaccharides produced by LAB alter the rheological properties of the matrix in which they are dispersed, leading to typically viscous and “ropy” products. Polysaccharides are involved in several mechanisms such as prebiosis and probiosis, tolerance to stress associated to food process, and technological properties of food. In this paper, we summarize the beneficial properties of exopolysaccharides (EPS) produced by LAB with particular attention to prebiotic properties and to the effect of exopolysaccharides on the LAB-host interaction mechanisms, such as bacterial tolerance to gastrointestinal tract conditions, ability of ESP-producing probiotics to adhere to intestinal epithelium, their immune-modulatory activity, and their role in biofilm formation. The pro-technological aspect of exopolysaccharides is discussed, focusing on advantageous applications of EPS in the food industry, i.e., yogurt and gluten-free bakery products, since it was found that these microbial biopolymers positively affect the texture of foods. Finally, the involvement of EPS in tolerance to stress conditions that are commonly encountered in fermented beverages such as wine is discussed.
- Lactic acid bacteria
- Stress tolerance