Submerged fermentation of lentil protein isolate and its impact on protein functionality, nutrition, and volatile profiles

J Food Sci. 2024 May 20. doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.17111. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Fermentation of pulses as a clean processing technique has been reported to have a favorable impact on the functional and nutritional quality of the starting materials. Compared to commonly fermented pulses such as peas and chickpeas, limited information is available on the effect of fermentation on lentils, especially when using a high protein isolate (>80% protein) as compared to seeds or flours. Therefore, in the present work, lentil protein isolate was used as a feedstock for submerged fermentation with Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus oryzae, or Lactobacillus plantarum. After 48 h, the samples showed increased protein content with enhanced solubility and oil-holding capacity. Controlled fermentation, as opposed to spontaneous fermentation, maintained the high foaming capacity; however, all fermented samples had lower foam and emulsion stabilizing properties and reduced water-holding capacity compared to the control. The fermented proteins were also less digestible, possibly due to an increase in phenolics and saponins. New volatile compounds were identified in fermented samples that show promise for improved sensory attributes. Significant differences were observed in specific quality attributes depending on the microbial strain used. Further research is required to better understand the fermentative metabolism of microbial communities when provided high-protein lentil ingredients as growth substrates. PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Fermented lentil protein isolate has promising flavor profiles that may improve its sensory properties for food application.

Keywords: Aspergillus; Lactobacillus plantarum; digestibility; hydrolysis; pulse protein.