Most people try to avoid bitter flavors because they find them to be 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 in humans by 25 receptors known as T2Rs. Only a few inhibitors of T2R activity have been identified so far.
‘Beef proteins have been shown to generate desirable flavor-promoting peptides. Such peptides could someday be used to make other foods and even medicines taste better.’
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. Prashen Chelikani, Rotimi E. Aluko and colleagues 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. These peptides were also the longest, which suggests that peptide size might play an important role. The group notes this could impact not only the food industry but the pharmaceutical industry as well.