Physicochemical and Functional Properties of Vegetable and Cereal Proteins as Potential
Sources of Novel Food Ingredients

Cintya Soria-Hernández, Sergio Serna-Saldívar and Cristina Chuck-Hernández*

Research Center for Protein Development (CIDPRO), School of Engineering and Sciences, Monterrey Institute of
Technology, Av. Eugenio Garza Sada 2501 Sur, MX-64849 Monterrey, N.L., Mexico

Article history:
Received September 26, 2014

Accepted May 11, 2015

Key words:
vegetable proteins, cereal proteins, functional properties, physicochemical parameters, 
soya and maize concentrates, pea flour

Proteins from vegetable and cereal sources are an excellent alternative to substitute animal-based counterparts because of their reduced cost, abundant supply and good nutritional value. The objective of this investigation is to study a set of vegetable and cereal proteins in terms of physicochemical and functional properties. Twenty protein sources were studied: five soya bean flour samples, one pea flour and fourteen newly developed blends of soya bean and maize germ (five concentrates and nine hydrolysates). The physicochemical characterization included pH (5.63 to 7.57), electrical conductivity (1.32 to 4.32 mS/cm), protein content (20.78 to 94.24 % on dry mass basis), free amino nitrogen (0.54 to 2.87 mg/g) and urease activity (0.08 to 2.20). The functional properties showed interesting differences among proteins: water absorption index ranged from 0.41 to 18.52, the highest being of soya and maize concentrates. Nitrogen and water solubility ranged from 10.14 to 74.89 % and from 20.42 to 95.65 %, respectively. Fat absorption and emulsification activity indices ranged from 2.59 to 4.72 and from 3936.6 to 52 399.2 m2/g respectively, the highest being of pea flour. Foam activity (66.7 to 475.0 %) of the soya and maize hydrolysates was the best. Correlation analyses showed that hydrolysis affected solubility-related parameters whereas fat-associated indices were inversely correlated with water-linked parameters. Foam properties were better of proteins treated with low heat, which also had high urease activity. Physicochemical and functional characterization of the soya and maize protein concentrates and hydrolysates allowed the identification of differences regarding other vegetable and cereal protein sources such as pea or soya bean.

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