Flavor Chemistry


Flavors possess a variety of chemical groups and structures. They can be heterocyclic, carbocyclic, terpenoid, aromatic, and so on. The overall flavor of foods is due to carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins; however, specific flavors can be elicited by numerous other classes of compounds, such as alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, and various heterocyclic compounds (pyrazines, pyrroles, pyridines etc). Flavor components in food range in number from 50 to 250 compounds in fresh products such as fruits and vegetables and to more than double this number in foods subjected to heat or enzyme treatment; for example, more than 700 compounds have been reported in roast coffee aroma (1). The investigation of around 200 different food products has led to the identification of nearly 5000 compounds (2,3), the vast majority of them identified by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) analysis.

Flavor sensation may be due to a single compound (4) or to a group of compounds. Single compounds are called flavor notes; examples are 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzalde-hyde (vanillin) (Fig. 1), the character note for vanilla flavor, and 3-phenyl-2-propenal (cinnamaldehyde) (Fig. 2) for cinnamon flavor. On the other hand, a group of compounds representing a particular flavor is called the flavor profile

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