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Web Date: January 29, 2008

Scientists Plumb Vegetables' Secrets

Researchers learn how bland old celery perks up broth flavor and how broccoli aids heart health
Department: Science & Technology
TASTE ENHANCERS
These three celery phthalides contribute to the complex flavor of chicken broth.
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TASTE ENHANCERS
These three celery phthalides contribute to the complex flavor of chicken broth.

If you're preparing broth, be sure to toss in some celery. Its phthalides add pleasing complexity to the soup's flavor, according to Japanese researchers. And while your bouillon simmers, you might want to munch on broccoli. A U.S. research team says that vegetable's constituents limit heart damage in rats.

In an article detailing their work (J. Agric. Food Chem. 2008, 56, 512), food chemist Kikue Kubota at Ochanomizu University, in Tokyo, and colleagues note that celery ???has a characteristic spicy odor that turns to a sweet spicy note after boiling??? and is considered important for making bouillon. They identified three volatile phthalides—which themselves have no taste—whose olfactory contributions are responsible for enhancing the complex flavor of bouillon.

Meanwhile, Dipak K. Das and colleagues in the Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine may have discovered one reason broccoli is so good for you. They report that the hearty vegetable activates thioredoxins and other proteins that protect the heart from oxidative damage and cell death (J. Agric. Food Chem. 2008, 56, 609).

 
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society

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