Interactions between polyphenols and macromolecules may impact polyphenol stability and bioavailability from foods. The impact of milk on tea flavan-3-ol stability to thermal treatment was investigated. Single strength (36.2 protein per L), quarter strength (9.0 g protein per L) milk, and control model beverages were incubated with epigallocatechin gallate and green tea extract at 62 or 37 °C for 180 min. Intact flavan-3-ols and select auto-oxidation products [theasinesins (THSNs) and P-2 dimers] were quantified by LC-MS. Generally, greater polyphenol to protein ratios increased first order degradation rates, consequently decreasing formation of oxidation products. The presence of galloyl and hydroxy moieties was associated with higher stability of monomeric flavan-3-ols with increasing protein concentrations suggesting potential for protein affinity to stabilise flavan-3-ols to thermal treatment. Absence of these moieties led to no observable improvements in stability. These results suggest that protein interactions may be useful in stabilising flavan-3-ols through thermal processing.
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