25-26 SEPTEMBER 2024

No singles source of protein for vegan products


No singles source of protein for vegan products


A single source of protein for alternative, vegan products does not exist. Every application calls for different functionalities, flavours and nutritional properties, says researcher Keshia Broucke, of the ILVO and the Food Pilot, emphatically.


Un produit donné requerra ainsi une bonne capacité moussante, tandis que pour un autre, la protéine devra pouvoir s’émulsifier ou gélifier. « De nombreuses recherches sont en cours pour identifier toutes les propriétés des protéines provenant de sources alternatives, ainsi que l’impact des processus d’extraction des protéines », explique Keshia Broucke, de l’institut de recherche ILVO et de la plateforme d’innovation Flanders’ FOOD. 


A Combination of Proteins

Every application requires a combination of proteins, explains the researcher. “Many plant-based, protein-rich, raw materials are short of one or more essential amino acids, which can lead to deficiencies from a nutritional point of view.” Peas, chickpeas, lupin beans and many other pulses are short of essential, sulphur-rich amino acids, and so a grain protein supplement is recommended. Most grains are short of lysine, which is abundantly present in most pulses.




There are also sensory limitations with some raw materials. "Proteins from nuts and seeds, such as pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, have a nutty flavour, which can be desirable in cookies and biscuits. However, pumpkin seed proteins have an intense green colour, and sunflower seed proteins are generally dark in colour. Also, their amino acid profiles are insufficient."



From a nutritional and functional viewpoint, Broucke tells us, these proteins are an interesting complement for other, plant-based proteins because they supplement some essential amino acids and are good for making emulsions (such as mayonnaise).



Protein Extraction Process

The protein extraction process it is also important, because heat treatment, for example, can reduce the content of anti-nutritional factors, which aids the protein's digestibility, but can also denature the protein, which is bad for functionality. "Here too, the balance is important", emphasises the researcher.



Getting Started

To begin with, it is important to determine the protein application:

  • If you are looking to replace functional proteins, such as gluten, you will need to look at the functionalities of the protein, such as gelling capacity and protein solubility.
  • But if you are looking to enrich a protein, the nutritional aspect is important, such as protein content, essential amino-acid content and digestibility.
  • In all applications the sensory aspect (flavour, colour, odour, mouth feel) is extremely important. Protein extracts can still carry the aromas of the raw materials.









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