Enzymes

Chapter
Part of the Food Science Text Series book series (FSTS)

Abstract

Enzymes, although minor constituents of many foods, play a major and manifold role in foods. They are highly specialized proteins with the special ability to catalyze specific chemical reactions in biological systems. Although they may undergo change during the catalysis, they are unchanged at the end of the reaction. They are highly selective catalysts, greatly accelerating both the rate and specificity of metabolic reactions from digestion of food to the synthesis of DNA. An enzyme can catalyze only a single reaction of a single compound, called the enzyme’s substrate. For example, amylase found in the human digestive tract catalyzes only the hydrolysis of starch to yield glucose; cellulose and other polysaccharides are untouched by amylase. Other enzymes have different specificities. Papain, for example, a globular protein isolated from papaya fruit, catalyzes the hydrolysis of many kinds of peptide bonds, which makes papain useful as a meat tenderizer and a cleaner for contact lenses. Enzymes act only to lower the activation energy for a reaction, thereby making the reaction takes place more rapidly. Starch and water, for example, react very slowly in the absence of a catalyst because the activation energy is too high. When amylase is present, however, the energy barrier is lowered, and the hydrolysis reaction occurs rapidly.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Food ScienceCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Food ScienceUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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