The reactions that occur during the cooking, baking, and preservation of foods of all kinds are of great importance for the production of aroma, taste, and color. However, more recently it has been shown that these reactions may be accompanied by a reduction in nutritive value and the formation of toxic compounds. For these reasons, the very complex reactions between reducing sugars and the free amino groups of amino acids or proteins, known as non-enzymatic browning or the Maillard reaction, have again caught the interest of chemists. The Maillard reaction came to be seen in a new light as it was realized that it actually occurred in the human body. As a general rule, the longer the half-life of a protein, the larger the amount of its Maillard products found, i.e., important factors are the ‘age’ or persistence of the protein in the body and the glucose concentration, particularly in diabetics. Many of the symptoms developed by diabetics resemble those of premature aging, which leads to the possibility that glucose, because of its reactivity towards proteins, is fundamentally involved in the normally slow progress of aging.
– New Aspects of the Maillard Reaction in Foods and in the Human Body