Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ginseng just got better -- not as bitter

Date:
December 8, 2010
Source:
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Summary:
Scientists have learned to mask the bitterness of ginseng, a common ingredient of energy drinks. 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.

Fresh ginseng. University of Illinois scientists have learned to mask the bitterness of ginseng.
Credit: iStockphoto/Kai Zhang

University of Illinois scientists have learned to mask the bitterness of ginseng, a common ingredient of energy drinks.

Related Articles


"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 distraction
  • incorporating a bitterness blocking agent that neutralizes the taste buds
  • using ingredient interaction (the scientists added large amounts of taurine because research indicated that it might be useful in blocking bitterness)
  • utilizing an enzyme that would break down the peptide bonds of bitter components
  • 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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. "Ginseng just got better -- not as bitter." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101206161836.htm>.
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. (2010, December 8). Ginseng just got better -- not as bitter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101206161836.htm
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. "Ginseng just got better -- not as bitter." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101206161836.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Around the World Take Flight

Birds Around the World Take Flight

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 22, 2014) An imperial eagle equipped with a camera spreads its wings over London. It's just one of the many birds making headlines in this week's "animal roundup". Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) The Houston Zoo released video of a male baby okapi. Okapis, also known as the "forest giraffe", are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Video is mute from source. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins