From burgers to steaks, beef has a long history of being a mealtime mainstay, but what if the experience of eating beef could extend beyond the dinner plate?
A research group has reported in the American Chemical Society's (ACS) Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry that beef protein, when broken down into peptides, can block bitter taste receptors on the tongue. Such peptides could some day be used to make other foods and even medicines taste better, ACS said.
Most people try to avoid bitter flavors because they find them unpleasant, but some healthful foods are bitter, as are some medications. So, the food and pharmaceutical industries have been looking at ways to reduce or eliminate bitter sensations, which are detected by 25 receptors in people known as T2Rs. Only a few inhibitors of T2R activity have been identified so far, ACS said.
In recent years, bioactive peptides created from breaking down food proteins, through a process known as enzymatic hydrolysis, have gained attention for reducing bitterness and inflammation. Because beef proteins have been shown to generate desirable flavor-promoting peptides, Prashen Chelikani, Rotimi E. Aluko and colleagues at the University of Manitoba wanted to see if these peptides could block bitter tastes.
The researchers hydrolyzed beef protein with six different enzymes: alcalase, chymotrypsin, trypsin, pepsin, flavourzyme and thermoase. Peptides produced from trypsin and pepsin digestion were the most effective in reducing the intensity of the bitterness of quinine in a test with an electronic tongue, ACS said. These peptides were also the longest, which suggests that peptide size might play an important role.
The research group noted that this could affect not only the food industry but the pharmaceutical industry as well.
The abstract that accompanies this study is available here.
ACS, the world's largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies.