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This research investigated the mechanisms in the reduction of Maillard browning reactions of whey protein hydrolysate powder (WPH) prepared by hydrolysis of whey protein concentrate (WPC) with trypsin (E.C.188.8.131.52) at 37 °C for 60 min and spray-dried with trehalose when used in the mixed solutions containing protein 1.3 % (w/v) from WPC 1.0 % and WPH 0.3 %, added with lactose 0 – 0.25 mol L-1, and sterilized at 121 °C for 15 min. The mechanisms of browning reduction of reconstituted WPH powder involved the increasing antioxidant activities of WPH, assessed by oxygen radical absorbance assay and ABTS·+ radical scavenging capacity assay of the short-chain peptides of less than 6.5 kDa. Besides, the thiol groups played an essential role in reducing the occurrence of brown melanoidin pigments, probably by directly involved in the Maillard reactions that generated fluorescent products or donating the hydrogen atom to the free radicals, and subsequently transforming to stable intermediates, thus suppressing the formation of brown pigments in full Maillard reactions of protein – lactose solutions subjected to sterilization.
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