Antioxidants

There is much interest in antioxidants from the perspective of protecting foodstuffs from flavour decay, but increasingly for their potential value in countering afflictions such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases. Figure 1.25 presents a range of these antioxidants. Many are phenolics and act either by scavenging or by neutralising (reduction) the radicals that effect deterioration or by chelating the metal ions that cause the production of these radicals.

The tocopherols are fat soluble and are found in vegetable oils and the fatty regions of cereals, for example, the germ. The carotenoids (e.g. lycopene) are water soluble and are found in fruits and vegetables. The flavonoids are water-soluble polyphenols found in fruits, vegetables, leaves and flowers. Such molecules have particular significance for some of the products discussed in this book, notably wine, beer and tea. The phenolic acids, for example, caffeic and ferulic acids and their esters, are abundant in cereal grains such as wheat and barley.

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