Assessing Anti-Nutritional Properties of Pulses - PulseResearch
April 25, 2017
Researchers perform a quantitative assessment of the anti-nutritional properties of Canadian pulses
Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), and the University of Manitoba are performing a comprehensive chemical analysis of the anti-nutritional factors found within Canadian pulses with funding from AAFC and Saskatchewan Pulse Growers. The goal is to accumulate data to support regulatory approval processes to separate pulses from soybeans in feed products, governed by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, and in food through the Food and Drug Administration in the United States.
“We are surveying the anti-nutritional properties in peas, lentils, chickpeas, faba beans, and beans and comparing them to soybeans,” says Dr. Mike Nickerson, Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Research Chair at the U of S, and the project’s lead researcher. “The anti-nutritional properties found in pulses can impact protein and starch digestibility and the absorption of minerals. However, we can remove or decrease the anti-nutritional properties through processing.”
The United States currently classifies soybeans and pulses together, but since soy has higher levels of anti-nutritional compounds than pulses, research is needed to collect data to distinguish them. “We are also looking at ways to lower the anti-nutritional compound levels in pulses through cooking methods and germination,” Nickerson says.
Scheduled to conclude in March 2017, the three-year project, only has preliminary findings so far, but results indicate soybean, which serves as the control, contains the highest contents of anti-nutritional compounds trypsin inhibitor, lectins, and phytic acid compared to pulses. These compounds impact protein, starch and digestion, and absorption of minerals, making it harder for enzymes in the gut to digest pulses.
Examples of other findings include α-amylase inhibitory activity being absent in peas, lentils, chickpeas, and faba beans, but present in beans. In terms of processing effects, soaking notably decreased the contents of α-amylase inhibitor, trypsin inhibitor, and lectins, but had no impact on phytic acid.
Cooking of presoaked seeds, on the other hand, was more effective with the research showing all proteinaceous anti-nutrients – α-amylase inhibitor, trypsin inhibitor, and lectins – reduced by 80 to 100 per cent. Researchers also observed significant reductions between 11 and 39 per cent in phytic acid content.
“At this point, it is fair to say, the level of anti-nutritional factors in Canadian pulses varies widely, but levels are generally lower than the levels found in soybean,” Nickerson says. “This project is also showing that processing, specifically heat processing, significantly reduces these levels.”
While research on this has been done in the past, this might be one of the most comprehensive studies recently undertaken.
“We are using the same methods from the same lab to survey all the pulses,” Nickerson says. “Current research looks at one at a time and using all slightly different assays.”
This will give a more accurate comparison, which will add great value for companies interested in processing pulses, opening the door to increased consumption of pulse ingredients.
“Because pulses are generally lower in anti-nutritional compounds than soy, it is important to have this hard data,” Nickerson says. “When companies look at pulses as an ingredient, they look at functionality; how they behave in certain applications. They also want to know the nutritional value.”
Once this project is complete, the researchers intend to look more closely at ways to lower the anti-nutritional compounds through plant breeding or processing technologies.
SPG Investment: $33,408
Project Length: 3 years
Co-Funder: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada - $206,595
Project Lead: Dr. Mike Nickerson - Assistant Professor, Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Research Chair, University of Saskatchewan