Appetizing Plant-Based Protein: Lund Researchers Crack the Code on Texture and Chewiness

Appetizing Plant-Based Protein: Lund Researchers Crack the Code on Texture and Chewiness – Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have developed a new method to make vegan food more appetizing by using new combinations of plant proteins to imitate the texture and structure of meat fibers. This approach aims to address the rubbery consistency that is often associated with vegan food, which can deter consumers. The team has published their research in various journals, including Foods, Journal of Food Engineering, and LWT, and they have developed a unique manufacturing method that produces meat analogs with good, long fibers, reducing energy consumption by about 75% compared to traditional methods.

The researchers have experimented with various vegetable proteins, such as rapeseed and hempseed, and have found that the combination of hempseed and residues from oat milk production is particularly promising. Although the team is currently the only one producing meat analogs in this way, there is interest from several companies. The process could take between two and five years to be commercialized.

This research is part of a broader effort to make plant-based alternatives more appealing and accessible, which supports the population in making more plant-based choices for climate, health, and animal welfare reasons.

Key Findings of the Lund University Study on Plant-Based Meat Alternatives:

  • Texture is Critical: Current vegan options often lack the satisfying chewiness of meat due to the absence of complex fiber structure. This study highlights the importance of texture alongside taste for creating appealing plant-based alternatives.
  • Mimicking Muscle Fibers: The researchers successfully utilized protein engineering and innovative processing techniques to create plant-based protein with a fibrous structure that mimics real meat, leading to a more satisfying mouthfeel.
  • Hempseed as a Star Ingredient: Industrial hempseed press cake emerged as a game-changer due to its high protein content, excellent textural properties, and pleasant taste. This readily available and versatile ingredient offers significant potential for sustainable plant-based meat alternatives.
  • Combining Proteins for Optimal Results: The study found that using a combination of two or more protein sources, like hempseed and gluten or hempseed and oat milk residue, yielded superior results in terms of taste, texture, and mouthfeel compared to single-ingredient options.
  • Energy-Saving Technology: The researchers developed a novel process using a protein solution instead of dry powder in the extruder, significantly reducing energy consumption by 75% and making the production process more eco-friendly.

How do the new combinations affect the nutritional value of vegan food?

The new combinations of plant proteins used to make vegan food more appetizing do not directly affect the nutritional value of the food itself. However, the choice of plant proteins and the manufacturing process can influence the nutritional profile of the final product. For example, the Lund University researchers have found that the combination of hempseed and residues from oat milk production is particularly promising, but this does not inherently change the nutritional value of the vegan food.
Vegan diets, when well-planned, can be nutritious and provide health benefits, but they may require supplementation with certain nutrients such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids (EPA/DHA).

The new manufacturing methods and protein combinations may help to create vegan foods that are more appealing and may encourage people to adopt healthier and more balanced diets. However, it is essential to ensure that vegan diets are carefully planned to meet all essential nutrient requirements.

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Last Updated on February 19, 2024 by shalw

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