Lubrication Properties of Protein Aggregate Dispersions in a Soft Contact
The lubrication, rheological, and molecular properties of two different protein aggregate dispersions were compared: globular aggregates of whey protein isolate (WPI) and fibrillar aggregates of ovalbumin from egg white. These dispersions are models for the lubricating fluid that is present between the tongue and the palate when consuming liquid or gelled products. To simulate oral conditions, a commercial tribometer was modified so that soft rubber surfaces could be used. This allowed us to measure friction at low contact pressures similar to those present between the tongue and palate. Clear correlations were observed between the measured friction coefficients and specific properties of the lubricating fluid such as protein concentration and aggregate size and shape. Furthermore, surface properties like elasticity, surface−surface interactions, and surface roughness had a significant effect on the friction under conditions that are relevant for texture perception. We conclude that in vitro measurements at low contact pressure provide valuable information for understanding and controlling food properties that modulate oral friction.