Putting Pulses on the Daily Menu - PulseResearch
April 25, 2017
Research aims to get more pulse starch ingredients into commercial food products
Pulse starch ingredients represent huge opportunities for the future of the pulse industry, however, they currently have fewer commercial applications than other plant starches.
This is something that Dr. Qiang Liu, Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Guelph Food Research Centre, wants to change. He is currently working on research that ultimately aims to make pulse starches a more practical and viable ingredient for commercial food companies by addressing the current reasons pulse starches are not commonly used commercially, and there are a number of them. For example, some pulse starches are characterized by restricted swelling power, impurity, high gelatinization temperatures, and high water loss, all factors which make them unsuitable candidates for commercial inclusion. In order to meet industrial needs, starches need to be able to withstand high shear rates and forces during processing, have low acidity, and endure high and low temperatures, which many pulse starches cannot.
There are currently chemical and biochemical approaches available to modify pulse starch to meet these requirements, but these approaches generally do not meet environmental and food safety requirements. Dr. Liu’s research aims to develop a novel type of modification technology that would meet environmental and food safety concerns, but also still produce consumer-friendly pulse starches.
“The current procedure for starch isolation from pulse seeds is very time consuming, taking approximately two or more days, and involves many steps to purify starch,” Liu says. “We will develop a novel technology, with a combination of enzymatic, carbon dioxide, and alkali treatment that takes place during the isolation. This will result in maximizing starch yield and purity while minimizing damage.”
This research will also identify Canadian pulse starches that have potential to be a good fit within commercial food products by analyzing their chemical composition, granular and molecular structure, and functional and nutritional properties, as well as experimenting with them in extrusion and other conventional processing technologies. From there, Dr. Liu will create a new database of knowledge about Canadian-grown pulse starches, which will serve as an educational resource for the food processing industry. Dr. Liu’s research will also produce a quick and efficient analytical method for screening existing, new, and speciality pulses to determine which ones are the best candidates for food ingredients, considering factors such as starch digestibility, glycemic response and glycemic index, validation of in-vitro and in-vivo digestion testing, chemical composition, granular and molecular structure, functionality, and nutritional properties.
“This research will also address several fundamental questions on starch structure, retrogradation, and interaction on digestibility,” Dr. Liu says. “It will also generate substantial information and advanced knowledge on starch chemistry in pulse and pulse food products.”
“Once the project is complete in 2018, research findings will be shared with the food processing industry, creating a partnership that will be instrumental in driving the Canadian pulse industry forward at a much quicker speed,” Dr. Liu says.
“The development of new technologies and products in this research will open new opportunities and markets for Canadian pulse products and pulse cultivars.”
SPG Investment: $238,878
Co-Funders: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada ($647,232)
Project Lead: Dr. Qiang Liu, Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Guelph Food Research Centre