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Plant Proteins from Legumes compared

Published: 12-11-2015, | Member: NIZO

Faba beans and lupin can be an interesting source of plant proteins. NIZO food research has proven that proteins can be extracted from these legumes with their functional properties intact. NIZO food research and HAS University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch are now exploring how these legumes can be included in Dutch and other European farmers’ crop rotations.

The food industry is looking for plant proteins to help them meet the growing demand for nutritious, protein-rich food. Scientists at NIZO food research have developed a affordable, scalable process to extract plant proteins without compromising their quality and functionality.

A literature review into the potential of legumes as a source of protein showed that white beans, field peas, faba beans, lupin and lentils could all be valuable sources of plant  proteins. The review focused on several factors, including the yield (amount of protein) per acre and the proteins’ amino acid composition. Following the review, NIZO food research extracted protein from these legumes at lab scale and studied the functionalities of these protein isolates with a view to application in food products.

“Several of the legumes we tested did really well,” says Fred van de Velde, Group Leader Protein Functionality and Principal Scientist Texture Perception at NIZO food research. “Their protein yield is 20 to 25 percent higher than that of green and yellow peas. That means these crops are a promising alternative to peas as a source of plant proteins.”

NIZO food research is working with HAS University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch to map out how farmers can incorporate these crops into their rotation. “These crops used to be grown a lot in the southern Dutch provinces of Brabant and Zeeland. Why did they disappear?” Van de Velde asks.

Research into the functional properties of the legume proteins will continue. NIZO food research will focus on basic properties like foaming behavior, heat stability, solubility, and emulsifying capacity, which together give an impression of these protein isolates’ technical functionalities. These properties are used to assess the proteins’ potential. “It won’t be long before these data are available,” Van de Velde promises.

NIZO food research