Protein is the key provider of essential amino acids required by the body for growth, repair and maintenance of bone, teeth, muscle and tissue, and for the production of functional components such as hormones, enzymes and immunoglobulins. Unlike carbohydrate and fat which can be stored within the body, daily dietary protein is essential to maintain the correct levels of amino acids for optimum health and support growth. Provision of the novel plant-based protein ingredients into a variety of food formulations that are popular and acceptable will encourage uptake of ingredients by processors and provide value to industry.
Alternative proteins selected in Task 2 and processed in Task 3 will be researched, investigated and their suitability for inclusion in suitable Meat, Dairy and Prepared Foods matrices determined. One of the major challenges with protein-enriched products is an increase in product hardness which almost always accompanies this fortification. The research team in Task 6 have extensive experience in overcoming this obstacle and will utilise this expertise during development and technological / sensory optimisation of food products.
Many plant-based foods and some animal proteins provide different proportions of essential amino acids to those used in the body. Underpinning this task is the approach of application of nutritional calculations to ensure provision of essential amino acids (EAAs) in optimal proportions in selected popular consumer foods (meat, dairy and/or prepared consumer foods), to support health, growth and repair. In silico modelling of ingredient combinations will be conducted using the computational tool vProtein http://www.vprotein.com/ to develop balanced combinations of protein ingredients within finished products.
The research programme is designed such that data from this Task will feed back to Task 1 to help determine the overall impact of inclusion of alternative proteins to sustainability and biodiversity.
The outcome of this task will be a suite of sensorially and technologically excellent products with high and balanced levels of EAAs, especially those with an ability to initiate and enhance muscle protein synthesis. This will help identify optimal food complements to satisfy human protein needs and will feed into the clinical studies that will be performed in Task 5.