Nutritional and Rheological Features of Lentil Protein Isolate for Yoghurt-Like Application
The substitution of animal protein with proteins of plant origin is a viable way to decrease the negative impact caused by animal husbandry on the environment. Pulse consumption has been widely promoted as a nutritious contribution to protein supplementation. In this study, an emulsion of lentil (Lens culinaris) protein isolate is fermented with lactic acid bacteria (LAB) to manufacture a yoghurt alternative and the techno-functional properties compared to a dairy- and a soy-based product with similar protein contents. The yoghurt-like products are subjected to large and small deformation analysis, quantification of fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAP), water holding capacity tests, protein profile analysis and the gel structure is visualised by confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). The lentil yoghurt alternative shows good water holding capacity, high firmness and consistency values in large deformation analysis, with cohesiveness and viscosity not significantly different from that of dairy yoghurt. The high gel strength and rigidity of the lentil yoghurt gels measured by small deformation analysis is well-reflected in the dense protein matrix in the CLSM graphs. FODMAP content of the lentil yoghurt is very low, making it suitable for consumption by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients. Our results show that lentil protein isolate is an excellent base material for producing a plant-based yoghurt alternative.