When stored at high relative water activity (Aw 0.9), zein has a prominent antioxidant activity against the peroxidation of methyl linoleate, while its papain hydrolysate does not. Using a lipid-soluble radical initiator, AMVN [2,2′-Azobis(2,4-dimethyl-vaIeronitrile)], to alter the induction period of peroxidation of methyl linoleate, we found a turning point just at 24 hr where the rate of oxygen absorption declined. The formation of a solid, tightly aggregated outer shield was observed by scanning electron microscopy. A rather amount of embedded substrate oil (methyl linoleate-methyl stearate, 7: 3) was obtained when aggregations formed, and there was little change in the level of embedded oil for at least 16 days. On the other hand, a hydrolysate of zein had scarcely any embedding effect. The ratio of methyl linoleate to methyl stearate showed that embedded oil (hexane unextractable) was more protective to oxidation than hexane-extractable oil. These findings indicate that the substrate oil must have been embedded in the shield formed by zein protein at Aw 0.9 to avoid outer oxygen attack.
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