Pea protein seen as promising microencapsulator

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pea protein Nutrition

Researchers in Brazil have identified pea protein as a possible
novel encapsulator after results showed the protein capable of
encapsulating vitamin E at high concentrations.

"The results obtained in this work show that the pea protein use for alpha-tocopherol microencapsulation is a promising system for further application in food,"​ wrote lead author Anna Pierucci from Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. Microcapsules are tiny particles that contain an active agent or core material surrounded by a shell or coating, and they are now increasingly being used in food ingredients preparation. The technology can be used to deliver a host of ingredients - flavours, oils, peptides, amino acids, enzymes, acidulants, colours and sweeteners - in a range of food formulations, from functional foods to ice cream. The technology is attracting growing interest because it can also decrease costs for food makers, particularly those using sensitive ingredients like probiotics, and by reducing the need for preservatives. The new research, published in the Journal of Microencapsulation​, taps into this growing trend by investigating the potential of pea protein (PP), carboxymethylcellulose (CMC), or mixtures of these materials with maltodextrin (PP-M and CMC-M) to microencapsulate alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) using the spray drying technique. Pierucci and co-workers report that the retention of alpha-tocopherol within all the microparticles produced was over 77 per cent in all cases. The particles were also characterised as having spherical shapes with average particle sizes below seven micrometres. The smallest particles were found to be produced using exclusively pea protein, or the CMC-M mixture. The authors concluded that the work showed the potential of pea protein as a microencapsulation material in food systems. Pea protein is classed as an alternative protein, a market that is growing at a rapid pace, for a variety of reasons. Alternative sources of protein are having a profound influence on the formulation of weight conscious food and diets based on low glycaemic index (GI) and high protein intake. Traditional manufacturers are beginning to take a look at new protein sources as a means of enriching their products. There are also economic advantages. Caseinates, which are typically used in dietetic foods like infant formula, sports products and slimming foods, currently cost around €6.50 per kg while soy protein isolates cost €3.50 to €5kg for the same amount of protein. Pea protein can cost around half the price of caseinates. Source: Journal of Microencapsulation​ Volume 24, Issue 3, Pages 201-213 "Comparison of alpha-tocopherol microparticles produced with different wall materials: pea protein a new interesting alternative" ​Authors: A.P.T.R. Pierucci, L.R. Andrade, M. Farina, C. Pedrosa, M.H.M. Rocha-Leao

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