Nutritional response of growing rats to faba beans (Vicia faba L., minor) and faba bean fractions

Br J Nutr. 1991 Nov;66(3):533-42. doi: 10.1079/bjn19910053.


The effects of raw faba bean (Vicia faba L., minor) meal (VFM) and its fractions on the growth and nitrogen utilization of rats have been determined in two experiments. Two commercial varieties of VFM were tested, local VFM (409-439 g/kg diet) and Troy VFM (439 g/kg diet). The bean fractions tested were V. faba lectin-depleted protein (VFDP), V. faba lectin (VFL) and V. faba cotyledon residue (VFCR). All diets were supplemented with amino acids to target requirements. Body-weight, body N and lipid contents of rats fed on VFM were reduced significantly in comparison with control rats fed on lactalbumin. This was due, in part, to the lower digestibility of the protein, lipid and dry matter (DM) of VFM diets. As a result, net protein utilization (NPU) and biological value (BV) of faba bean proteins were less than expected. Urine and urea-N outputs of the VFM-fed rats were also elevated in both experiments. Increasing the energy content of local VFM diets led to significantly higher dry body-weight, body N and lipid contents, with the result that the NPU and BV values of the protein also increased. However, the NPU values for VFM-fed rats were still significantly lower than those for the controls in both experiments. In contrast, true N, lipid and DM digestibilities in rats given local VFM were not significantly affected by the difference in the energy content of the diets. The replacement of two-thirds of the lactalbumin in the diet with VFDP (65 g/kg) reduced dry body-weight, N and lipid contents, NPU and BV compared with the control rats, even though N, lipid and DM digestibilities were not significantly different. The nutritional performance of rats fed on lactalbumin-based diets containing 7 g VFL/kg was similar to that of the controls. Similarly, the inclusion of the cotyledon residue (237 g VFCR/kg diet) had no appreciable effect on any of the variables studied. As VFL and VFCR had no antinutritional effects in these rats, it appears that the low nutritional value of VFM for rats (NPU 0.66) results not only from the low digestibility of the bean proteins, but also from disturbances in N metabolism.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight
  • Digestion
  • Fabaceae / chemistry
  • Fabaceae / metabolism*
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Male
  • Nitrogen / metabolism
  • Nutritive Value
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains


  • Plant Proteins
  • Nitrogen