Boosting Lentil Protein Quality with Whey Using Complexation and Fermentation

Jenn Hoskins
7th July, 2024

Boosting Lentil Protein Quality with Whey Using Complexation and Fermentation

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Universiti Sains Malaysia improved lentil-whey protein complexes using pH-shifting and fermentation
  • The fermentation process significantly increased the total phenolic compounds, enhancing antioxidant properties
  • The combined treatments improved the solubility, digestibility, and nutritional value of the protein complexes
The increasing demand for plant-based protein alternatives has driven researchers to explore new methods to enhance the properties of lentil proteins, which are typically limited by their poor solubility and digestibility. A recent study conducted by Universiti Sains Malaysia has developed an innovative approach that combines pH-shifting and fermentation treatments to improve the quality of lentil-whey protein (LP-WP) complexes[1]. This study aims to address the limitations of lentil proteins and provide a viable alternative to animal-based proteins. Lentil proteins (LPs) are known for their nutritional benefits but suffer from poor solubility, which restricts their application in the food industry. A previous study demonstrated that mixing LPs with whey protein isolates (WPIs) using a pH-recycling approach significantly improved their water solubility and resistance to protein aggregation[2]. Building on this, the current study explores the additional benefits of fermentation to further enhance the nutritional and functional properties of LP-WP complexes. The research team utilized water kefir, a probiotic-rich fermented beverage, to ferment the LP-WP complexes. Fermentation is known to improve protein digestibility and increase the production of beneficial compounds such as phenolic compounds[3]. The study involved hydrolyzing the protein complexes for five days at 25°C, during which various parameters including protein digestibility, pH values, microbial growth, total soluble solids, and total saponin and phenolic contents were monitored. One of the key findings was the significant increase in total phenolic compounds during fermentation. Phenolic compounds are known for their antioxidant properties and health benefits[4]. The fermentation process also led to notable changes in the secondary protein structures, as observed through FTIR spectrophotometer scans. These changes included modifications in the random coil and α-helix components, which are crucial for protein functionality and digestibility. The combination of pH-shifting and fermentation treatments resulted in a balanced protein complex with enhanced solubility, digestibility, and nutritional value. The microorganisms present in the water kefir played a critical role in this enhancement by influencing the protein structures and increasing the nutritional benefits of the LP-WP complexes. This dual-treatment approach not only improved the functional properties of the proteins but also enhanced their flavor, making them more appealing for food applications. In summary, the study by Universiti Sains Malaysia demonstrates that integrating pH-shifting with fermentation treatments can significantly improve the quality of lentil and whey protein complexes. This innovative method addresses the limitations of lentil proteins and offers a promising alternative to animal-based proteins in the food industry. By leveraging the benefits of both pH-shifting and fermentation, the researchers have developed a protein complex with superior solubility, digestibility, and nutritional properties, paving the way for more versatile and healthful plant-based protein options.



Main Study

1) Enhancing the quality of lentil proteins via combination with whey proteins based on a dual process: a novel strategy through the incorporation of complexation and fermentation

Published 4th July, 2024

Related Studies

2) Mechanism of the structural interaction between whey and lentil proteins in the unique creation of a protein structure.

3) Evaluation of structure, quality, physicochemical properties, and phenolics content of pea proteins: A novel strategy through the incorporation of fermentation.

4) Bound phenolics in foods, a review.

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