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Chemistry of Food and Nutraceuticals

Flavor and aromas


Flavour: flavour has been defined as the sensation produced by a material taken in mouth
perceived principally by a sense of taste & smell, and also by general pain, tactile(sense of
touch) & temperature receptors in the mouth.

 Both flavor and aroma are a human perception of a complex combination of volatile,
non-volatile, and structural components contributing to aroma and taste as well as
appearance and texture.

 Volatile compounds are responsible for aromas in fruits and vegetables.

 Non volatile compounds are responsible for taste.

 Structural compounds are responsible for texture and appearance.

 Aromas that can be sensed during consumption of a food; can be ORTHONASAL or


 Orthonasal : Smelling volatile compounds through the nose

 Retronasal: volatile compounds perceived through the back of the throat; Which occurs
while chewing and swallowing.

 Non volatile compounds are responsible for taste of the product and influence the perception
of the volatile compound.

 Non volatile compound are sensed by the taste buds, which are located in the papillae
on the surface of the tongue. Taste receptors in the taste buds respond to sweetness,
Sourness, saltiness, bitterness, & Umami (Savory)

 Umami is perceived from compound sugars, acids, Salts, Phenolics, & Glutamate.

 Two types of volatile compounds are present in the food.

 Primary compound: these are naturally present compound

 Secondary compounds: These are formed when the plant tissues are disrupted by
processes such as cutting, cooking.

 Physical actions including bruising, cutting, chewing, freezing and heating result in cell
rupture , the mixing of enzyme and substrates, and chemical and physical responses
that initiate the production of variety of compounds, many of which contribute to


• Depending on the functional groups, aroma compounds are classified into various

• Alcohols:

– The most important types of aroma alcohol are benzyl alcohol (oxidizes
to benzaldehyde , almond), ethyl maltol (cooked fruit), furaneol
(strawberry), menthol (peppermint), etc.

• Aldehydes:

– Various types of aldehydes constitute the aroma effect in food are

acetaldehyde (pungent), benzaldehyde (marzipan, almond), hexanal
(green, grassy), cinnamaldehyde (cinnamon, citral (lemongrass, lemon
oil), hexenal (green tomatoes), neral (citrus, lemongrass), vanillin

• Amines:

– Amines such as cadaverine(rotting flesh), Indole(jasmine flowery),

putrescine (rotting flesh), pyridine (very unpleasant), trimethylamine
(fish) are the major aroma compounds in food.

• Esters:

– Esters includes ethyl acetate (fruity), ethyl butanoate (fruity), fructone

(fruity, apple-like), octyl acetate (orange), isoamyl acetate (banana),
pentyl pentanoate (apple, pineapple), etc.

• Ketones:

– Ketones are also giving characteristic aroma effects. Octenone gives

blood, metallic, mushroom-like aroma effect, acetyl pyrroline create
fresh bread and jasmine odour, and acetyl tetrahydropyridine also create
fresh bread, popcorn odor.

• Lactones:
– Lactones produce sweet coconut odor.

• Terpenes:

– It gives limonene (orange) and nerol (sweet rose) odor.

• Flavour is defined as the sensation produced when by a material taken in the
mouth, perceived principally by a sense of taste & smell, and also by general
pain, tactile (sense of touch) & temperature receptors in the mouth.

• Smell is the main determinant of a food item’s flavor. The taste of food is limited
to sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and savory (umami) but the smell of a food is
limitless. So, a food flavor can be easily altered by changing its smell while
keeping its taste similar.

• Flavorants or Flavorings:

• Flavorings are focused on altering or enhancing the flavors of natural food

product such as meats and vegetables, or creating flavor for food products that
do not have the desired flavors such as candies and other snacks. Most types of
flavorings are focused on smell and taste.


There are three principal types of flavorings used in foods listed below:

• Natural flavouring substances:

– Flavoring substances obtained from plant or animal raw materials, by

physical, microbiological or enzymatic processes. They can be used in
their natural state or processed for human consumption, but cannot
contain any nature-identical or artificial flavoring substances.

– Due to the high cost or unavailability of natural flavor extracts, most

commercial flavorants are nature- identical, which means that they
synthesized by chemically rather than extracted from natural plants or
animal sources. To produce natural flavors, the flavorant first extracted
from the source substance. The methods of extraction may be solvent
extraction, distillation, or other physical forces. The extracts are then
purified and subsequently added to food products.

• Nature identical flavouring substances:

– Flavoring substances that are produced by chemical synthesis which are

chemically identical to natural flavoring substances present in food
products intended for human consumption. They lack any artificial
flavoring substances.

• Artificial flavouring substances

– Flavoring substances that are not identified in a natural product

intended for human consumption. To produce the artificial flavors, flavor
manufacturers must both find out the individual naturally occurring
aroma chemicals and mix them appropriately to produce a desired flavor
or create a novel non-toxic artificial compound that gives a specific flavor.

– Natural flavors may contain toxins from their sources while artificial
flavors are typically more pure and undergo more testing before being
sold for consumption. Many artificial flavorants are esters.


• Glutamic acid salts – Sodium salt of glutamic acid is called monosodium

glutamate (MSG), one of the most commonly used flavor enhancers in food

• Glycine salts – A simple amino acid that is usually used in conjunction with
glutamic acid as flavor enhancers.

• Guanylic acid salts – Nucleotide salts that are usually used in conjunction with
glutamic acid as flavor enhancers.

• Inosinic acid salts – Nucleotide salts created from the breakdown of AMP. Due to
high costs of production, it is usually used in conjunction with glutamic acid as
flavor enhancer.

• Organic acids – Organic acid are usually not considered and regulated as
flavorants by law. But they can impart different sour or taste that alters the
flavor of a food –

– Acetic acid – It gives vinegar sour taste and distinctive smell

– Citric acid – It is found in citrus fruits and gives them their sour taste

– Lactic acid – It is found in various milk products and give them a rich

– Malic acid – It is found in apples and gives them their sour or tart taste

– Tartaric acid – It is present in grapes and wines and gives them a tart