Okara is a major by-product of soymilk and tofu production. Despite retaining abundant nutrients after the process, okara is often under-utilized. In this study, solid-state fermentation (SSF) of okara was carried out using a koji starter (containing both Aspergillus oryzae and Aspergillus sojae) with the intention of releasing its untapped nutrients. Its effects on lipid metabolism in diet-induced obesity (DIO) were observed. The nutritional profile of fermented okara was elucidated using the following parameters: total phenolic content (TPC), pH, protein content, dietary fiber, amino acid content, and free sugar content. In vivo experiments were conducted using high-fat diets supplemented with unfermented okara and fermented okara over three weeks. Supplementation with fermented okara reduced body weight gain, adipose tissue weight, the serum triglyceride profile, and lipid accumulation in the liver, and altered the mRNA expression levels related to lipid metabolism; however, it did not affect pH and short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) production in this study. In conclusion, high-fat diets supplemented using okara fermented with Aspergillus spp. improved the lipid metabolism in mice, due to their high nutritional value, such as TPC, soy protein, and amino acids, and their synergistic effects without altering the gut microbiota.
Keywords: Aspergillus oryzae; Aspergillus sojae; anti-obesity; okara; solid-state fermentation.