Legumes Could Be Significant Protein Powerhouse for Undernourished Populations

September 23, 2009


CHICAGO - Researchers discuss legumes as a nutritional powerhouse to help overcome malnutrition in an estimated 800 million undernourished people throughout developing counties in the October 2009 issue of Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, published by the Institute of Food Technologists.

Providing safe, nutritious and wholesome food for poor and undernourished populations has been an increasing challenge for the developing world. More specifically, protein-energy malnutrition is among the most serious problems. This is due, in part, to increased populations, scarcity of fertile land and degradation of natural resources.

As a result of this growing concern, wild and underutilized legumes have emerged as cost-effective alternatives to the unreliable supply of animal-based protein in developing nations. Although common legumes such as soybeans and cowpeas are available, the demand for these protein-rich sources is not being met. Consequently, researchers throughout the world are tapping into natural wild and underutilized legumes in an attempt to alleviate hunger and overcome malnutrition in developing nations.

Several species of wild and underutilized legumes, such as Sesbania, Mucuna and Canavalia, possess strong nutritional and pharmaceutical value. With proper processing of these legumes, food scientists are certain that with further research these plants will provide food for humans and animals as well as a potential way to overcome protein malnutrition issues that currently affect developing nations.

“Further research is needed to explore the entirety of the underutilized legumes’ nutritional potential and researchers hope to find them to be a source of nutraceuticals for new food formulations, biofortification and new product development,” says lead researcher Rajeev Bhat.

Read the full article:  http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/122599968/PDFSTART


About IFT
The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) exists to advance the science of food. Our long-range vision is to ensure a safe and abundant food supply contributing to healthier people everywhere. Founded in 1939, IFT is a nonprofit scientific society with 20,000 individual members working in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government. IFT champions the use of sound science across the food value chain through knowledge sharing, education, and advocacy, encouraging the exchange of information, providing both formal and informal educational opportunities, and furthering the advancement of the profession. IFT has offices in Chicago, Illinois, and Washington, D.C. For additional information, please visit ift.org.

© 2009 Institute of Food Technologists

Jeannie Houchins, MA, RD