Polyphenols are a large family of naturally occurring plant components that have been associated with a wide variety of health benefits. Flavonoids and some anti-oxidants belong to the polyphenol family and have been shown to have heart-healthy and anti-cancer effects, for example.
The polyphenols the Penn State team studied were hydroxycinnamic acids, which have been associated with reduced risk of chronic diseases or for optimal health.
Dr. Devin Peterson, assistant professor of food science and director of the study, says, "Our research has shown that polyphenols are key to aroma and flavor formation in oats during the Maillard reaction which is the browning process that occurs when foods are roasted or baked. Polyphenols have not been identified as major flavor producers before or associated with the Maillard reaction." Peterson presented his results today at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D. C. His paper is, "Effects of Phenolic Content on the Generation of Maillard-type Aroma Compounds in Toasted Oat Groats". His co-authors are Stacy L. Schwambach, master's student, and Vandana A. Totlani, doctoral student.
In their experiments, Peterson and his research group took a batch of rolled oats and divided it into two samples. They boosted the level of polyphenols in one of the samples by an amount that can be found in nature and then roasted both samples. The sample that had the added polyphenols developed a lower level of Maillard-type aroma compounds as measured by gas chromatography and a panel of trained human sniffers.
The Penn State group's analyses show that the polyphenols inhibit the Maillard reaction by tying up or quenching some of the su