Molecular Food Engineering

Clarifying Food Processing from a Molecular Aspect

Structural Changes of Food Constituents through Processing and Functionality of Food Derived from Interactions

There are currently many global problems, including population growth and abnormal weather, that may make global food insufficiency more likely. Although the soybean is considered to be a potent and low cost protein supply, as a processed food, for example, soymilk, it has low acceptance. By improving the processes of soybean food production, it is expected to be of high quality. For this purpose, the behavior of proteins and other constituents during processing should be determined using chemical and engineering methods.

1. Denaturation behavior of food proteins using thermal treatment
In food processing, food materials are repeatedly heated and cooled. To determine the effect of complex heating, soymilk was heated using one- or two-step heating at different temperatures and heating rates. Characterization of the resulting soymilk (viscosity, protein denaturation rate, changes in higher structures, protein aggregation, etc.) demonstrated a relationship between heating conditions and protein denaturation, providing information to potentially improve the quality of the products.
2. Improvement of soymilk beverage processing
Soymilk beverage processing methods are based purely on empirical data, thus there is very limited scientific data. Using chemical and engineering approaches, the processing could be improved and soymilk quality would become higher. Currently, milling temperature and bean soaking are determined from protein denaturation and dispersion stability.
3. Analysis of the mechanisms of food factor interaction with proteins
Finding high-affinity proteins that bind to food factors is the first step in understanding the molecular and biochemical mechanisms of the functional effects of food. For example, tea polyphenols form complexes with several proteins in food, viruses, blood, and cells. The interaction of tea polyphenols with these proteins is believed to modulate their bioavailability and biological activity. Using new screening methods developed in our laboratory, we demonstrated that tea polyphenols and lipoic acid interact non-covalently with target proteins, and that they form covalent adducts with cysteinyl thiol residues in proteins.


Makoto ShimoyamadaPhD


Hayato MasudaPhD

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Heating conditions affect thermal denaturation of protein, resulting in improved quality of proteineous food


Omission of imbibition in soymilk processing had little effect on the character of the soymilk (appearance, protein content, acceptability, etc.)


  1. Food Chem. 140, 39-43(2013)
  2. Food Sci. Technol. Res. 18, 651-657(2012)
  3. Free Radic. Biol. Med., 45, 1384–1394 ( 2008)