Researchers from the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food, and Environment of Hebrew University recently developed a line of next-gen chickpea isolates, using patent-pending technology to extract up to 90% pure protein from the chickpea seed. The new line, which is designed to be used in plant-based dairy alternative products, has been launched through a startup called ChickP, founded by Ram Reifen, a pediatric gastroenterologist and director of the Center for Nutrigenomics and Functional Foods at Hebrew University.
“This is a high-quality protein, non-allergenic, non-GMO, and devoid of phytoestrogens, with excellent functionality and thereby suitable to various applications like weaning foods, dairy and meat analogues, supplementation of proteins to athletes, etc.,” explains Reifen.
The new chickpea isolates, which went into production in October 2019, demonstrate several characteristics that help alternative dairy producers overcome challenges in processing. Features include a neutral flavor, smooth texture, emulsion stability, and very low fat content, as well as shorter, cleaner labeling. Thanks to its high solubility and smooth viscosity, ChickP forms an emulsion/gel that also contributes to a firm finished product. According to Reifen, plant-based milk alternatives that contain ChickP have been shown to mimic cow’s milk and yogurt for taste, mouthfeel, and nutritional value.
The next phase of Reifen’s research is twofold. “The additional research conducted now and planned for the future is, on one hand, to look for various applications of the chickpea protein,” he says, “but also, [in] the possible association with chronic inflammatory diseases, we already have some indications for favorable effects.”
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