German Scientists Study Mung Beans as Promising Climate-Resilient Solution for Plant-Based Meat

New research carried out by German scientists at The University of Bonn and Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV into plant protein extraction methods highlights the potential use of climate-resilient crops, such as mung beans, for plant-based meat.

According to the researchers, soy is still the most commonly used legume for protein. However, the acceptance of mung bean protein isolate as a novel food by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has created an opportunity to explore an alternative option, thereby expanding the protein sources.

“We need more research and knowledge on how to unlock the potential of the underutilized crops”

To understand whether mung beans were an optimal source for protein isolates, the researchers studied three plant protein extraction methods at different extraction pH levels: isoelectric precipitation (IP), micellization (MP), and a hybrid of both (HP).

They measured how each method impacted the composition of the isolates, including protein purity, yield, functional and nutritional qualities, and the presence of antinutritional substances (phytic acid and trypsin).

Mung Bean Protein JUST
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The potential of the underutilized crops

The research found that IP, at pH 5, resulted in the highest protein yield of 67.5%. Adding NaCl (sodium chloride) during IP extraction increased the extractability of mung bean protein, but the resulting salt concentration after dilution affected the protein yield. The study also showed that dilution in combination with isoelectric precipitation did not increase the protein yield beyond 54.8%.

Micellization was the most effective method for reducing antinutritive compounds and improving the re-solubility of the protein isolate. Still, it had a low product yield for large-scale applications, which means it is not economically viable.

All three isolation methods yielded protein-rich isolates with protein contents exceeding 95%. However, the protein yield obtained from each method ranged from 8 to 19%. The researchers suggest that upcycling or reusing side products is necessary to develop economically viable and sustainable protein isolation methods.

Mung beans in a bowl

Plant-based meat = indispensable building block

HP combining salt extraction, dilution, and IP increased protein yield compared to micellization alone and produced an isolate with a lighter color and lower trypsin inhibitor activity. However, these methods did not reduce the phytic acid content of the isolate.

The study emphasizes the importance of pH, solubility, structural changes, and the protein’s native state when selecting an appropriate extraction method to obtain protein purity and yield while eliminating antinutrients.

Wasamon Nutakul, Science and Technology Manager at GFI APAC, shared on social media: “As fermentation-derived ingredients/proteins and cultivated meat technologies evolve to reach consumer accessibility, plant-based meat is the indispensable building block to reach that goal.

“We need more research and knowledge on how to unlock the potential of the underutilized crops, especially the climate resilient ones like mung beans.”

To read the complete study, Physicochemical and chemical properties of mung bean protein isolate affected by the isolation procedure, visit The National Library of Medicine.

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