Ye A, Cui J, Dalgleish D, Singh H. - - J Dairy Sci 2016: in press

Effect of homogenization and heat treatment on the behavior of protein and fat globules during gastric digestion of milk

The effects of homogenization and heat treatment on the formation and the breakdown of clots during gastric digestion of whole milk were investigated using a human gastric simulator. Homogenization and heat treatment led to formation of coagula with fragmented and crumbled structures compared with the coagulum formed from raw whole milk, but a larger fraction of the protein and more fat globules were incorporated into the coagula induced by action of the milk-clotting enzyme pepsin. The fat globules in the whole milk appeared to be embedded in the clots as they formed. After formation of the clot, the greater numbers of pores in the structures of the clots formed with homogenized milk and heated whole milk led to greater rates of protein hydrolysis by pepsin, which resulted in faster release of fat globules from the clots into the digesta. Coalescence of fat globules occurred both in the digesta and within the protein clots no matter whether they were in homogenized or heated milk samples. The formation of clots with different structures and hence the changes in the rates of protein hydrolysis and the release of milk fat into the digesta in the stomach provide important information for understanding the gastric emptying of milk and the potential to use this knowledge to manipulate the bioavailability of fat and other fat-soluble nutrients in dairy products.

Key words: milk; homogenization; heat treatment; gastric digestion; protein coagulation