Health Implications of Processing Pulse Ingredients - PulseResearch
April 25, 2017
Commercial processing of pulses to powder form does not alter their low glycemic characteristics
Pulses are associated with many health benefits due to their nutritional composition. However, pulse consumption remains notably low in North America, including in Canada.
A desire to increase the consumption of pulses is driving a movement of health-related research into pulses, including products that can help these super foods provide maximum benefits from their healthy nutrient profile. One of those products is pulse powders, which industry is producing to be incorporated in a wide variety of novel food products.
There is concern, however, that processing pulses into powder forms may affect their functional implications in the food products.
“It may affect the nutritional benefits of pulses,” says Dr. G. Harvey Anderson, a professor at the University of Toronto and lead researcher of a study comparing the acute effects of commercially prepared pulse powders from chickpeas, lentils, and navy beans, and whole pulses on glycemic response in healthy young men.
“Previously, no research work was done to evaluate the effect of industrial processing on the glycemic response of pulses,” he says.
This study, funded by Saskatchewan Pulse Growers and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as part of the Pulse Science Cluster under the Growing Forward (2008-13) agricultural policy framework, had 12 men attend four weekly sessions where they received three treatments of each pulse – whole canned pulses, puréed canned pulses, and pulse powders – or whole wheat flour, as a control, in random order.
“Each experiment investigated commercially available whole and powdered forms of commonly consumed pulse types prepared with tomato sauce,” Anderson says.
Participants were also served fixed calories – 50.2 kJ/kg body weight – of pizza meal with 500 millilitres of filtered water two hours after eating the pulse treatments. The researchers measured participants’ blood glucose concentration at 0, 15, 30, 45, 60, 90, and 120 minutes. Then, following the pizza meal, they measured blood glucose concentration at 140, 155, 170, 185, and 200 minutes.
The results of the study showed that commercial processing of pulses, such as chickpeas and lentils, to a powder form does not alter their low glycemic characteristics.
“Pulse powders can therefore be used as value-added ingredients in home cooking as well as functional foods to improve postprandial glycemic control,” Anderson says. “It is therefore recommended to incorporate the pulse powders for the development of novel functional food products.”
“Such foods will help promote consumption of pulses in convenience foods among individuals who normally avoid them due to taste or perceived inconvenience,” he adds. “The novel food products prepared from pulse powders would be tested for their functional implications.”
Results from this research helps food processors meet consumer demands to produce healthier processed foods and to use ingredients that improve foods known to be highly processed, high glycemic, and have low nutrient content. This includes breads, cereals, pastas, and snack foods.
“Food manufacturers often need incentives to incorporate pulse powders into their products, such as being able to make health claims on packaging,” Anderson says. “Expanded knowledge of the health benefits of pulse powders and their use in many food products, along with expected support for substantiation of health claims, will benefit producers by increasing Canadian consumption and branding Canadian pulses as healthy for international markets.”
SPG Investment: $54,778
Project Length: 3 years
Co-Funder: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada - $263,862
Project Lead: Dr. G. Harvey Anderson - University of Toronto