"Consumers like to see ginseng on a product's ingredient list because studies show that it improves memory, enhances libido and sexual performance, boosts immunity, and alleviates diabetes. But the very compounds that make ginseng good for you also make it taste bitter," said Soo-Yeun Lee, a U of I associate professor of food science and human nutrition.
In an earlier study, Lee and U of I professor of food chemistry Shelly J. Schmidt found that ginseng contributes more to the bitter perception in energy drinks than caffeine, an indispensable component of these beverages and the very compound that sensory scientists use as their reference for bitter perception.
"Ginseng has over 30 bitter compounds, and scientists still don't know which compound or group of compounds is responsible for the bitter taste," Lee said.
While experimenting with five possible solutions to ginseng's bitterness problem, they discovered that cyclodextrins—hydrophobic compounds made of glucose molecules that occur in a ring form—were able to capture the bitter flavor compounds and reduce bitterness by more than half.
Lauren Tamamoto, a graduate student who worked on the study, assembled a group of 13 non-smokers who also lacked allergies that would affect their bitter perception. Panelists had to be able to detect a chemical called 6-n-propyl-2-thiouracil (PROP) on a piece of filter paper (some people can, some people can't) and also pass basic taste tests for sweet, sour, bitter, and salty perceptions. They then participated in 12 training sessions and taste-tested 84 samples, rating each on a 16-point scale.
The researchers used the panelists to test these potentially effective bitterness-reducing treatments:
adding a related complementary flavor (in this case, citrus) as a sensory distractionincorporating a bitterness blocking agent that neutralizes the taste buds
experimenting with complexation, or the use of cyclodextrins to form inclusion complexes with the bitter compounds, which masks the bitter taste
"Cyclodextrins were by far the most effective method of reducing the bitterness of ginseng solutions. We also found that gamma-cyclodextrins were more successful than beta-cyclodextrins and were more cost-effective," Schmidt said.
These compounds have been used to mask bitterness before, but not at the level of ginseng used in a typical energy drink, she said.
Lee and Schmidt intend to continue studying ginseng's bitterness compounds to learn which are most responsible for producing objectionable flavors, and to gain insight into exactly how these compounds interact with cyclodextrins.
That knowledge would facilitate the use of ginseng as a functional ingredient in energy drinks and allow their manufacturers to add health benefits to the beverages beyond general nutrition and the calories they provide, Lee said.
"The U.S. energy drink industry is expected to reach $19.7 billion in sales by 2013, even though these beverages often have a medicinal taste because of their functional ingredients. If we can create more palatable products, manufacturers will be able to expand this market even further.
"But, beyond that, this new method for masking bitterness in ginseng gives food scientists an opportunity to improve the health of consumers," she said.
The study was published in the September 2010 issue of the Journal of Food Science. Lee, Schmidt, and Tamamoto were co-authors of the paper.
Phyllis Picklesimer | EurekAlert!
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy