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FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri

Sustainable Norwegian dietary fiber and protein sources for a healthy gut microbiota

Alternative title: Bærekraftige norske kilder til kostfiber og protein for en sunn tarmflora

Awarded: NOK 1.5 mill.

A transition of Norwegian agriculture and food production requires increased production of Norwegian protein-rich plants and new plant-based products. The products need to be attractive for consumers with good sensory properties and have positive health implications. An overall plant-based diet is accepted as healthier than an animal-based. However, the health effects of new protein-rich plant-based products that nutritionally can be an alternative to animal proteins are not known. Plant proteins can be of lower quality than proteins of animal sources as they contain less of the essential amino acids, or the proteins are less bioavailable due to lower protein digestibility. Little knowledge exists on the effect of undigested plant proteins in the large intestine, and whether the proteins will be fermented by the gut microbiota and promote an unhealthy environment. However, plants contain healthy dietary fibers which are the most important energy source for the gut microbiota. These dietary fibers might have the potential to modulate any negative effects of undigested plant proteins in the gut. The main aim of GutFeedingNow is to generate knowledge on how plant proteins are digested and the impact of plant proteins and dietary fiber on the gut microbiota by using plant-based products. The products will be based on sustainable Norwegian sources. This will provide new scientific knowledge available for the food industry and stakeholders/consumers and contribute to increased sustainability and public health.

A successful transition of Norwegian agriculture and food production requires knowledge about health implications of an increased consumption of plant based raw materials and ingredients. This knowledge needs include the nutritional impact of an increased intake of plants as a major protein source. Plants; either as is, minimally processed or transformed into protein enriched ingredients will have an impact of the quality of the food produced. Plant-based products need to be attractive for consumers. This comprises good sensory properties, but also health, sustainability, and ethical aspects. Identifying positive health aspects of plant-based food products and boosting products made from Norwegian resources is crucial for the transition. While an overall plant-based diet is accepted as healthier than animal-based foods, the specific health effects of plant-based products such as meat replacers are not known. Animal foods are traditionally rich in high quality protein, but also saturated fat, while plants are our major source of healthy dietary fiber. Products high in or enriched with plant proteins may suffer from lower protein bioaccessibility. A reduced digestibility of processed plant proteins may result in less uptake in the small intestine and a higher protein supply to the gut. The gut microbiota plays a central role in maintaining health and the potential impact of plant-protein fermentation by the gut microbiota is not known. GutFeedingNow therefore aims to generating knowledge on the impact of plant-foods containing sustainable Norwegian dietary fiber and protein sources on gut microbiota, providing benchmark knowledge for the food industry and stakeholders/consumers. This may promote extended use of Norwegian agricultural resources, including side stream products high in dietary fiber. Making them as high-value ingredients for production of attractive plant-foods will increase value throughout the value chain, improving sustainability and public health.

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Funding scheme:

FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri