• Reduce text

    Reduce text
  • Restore text size

    Restore text size
  • Increase the text

    Increase the text
  • Print


Pasta made using legumes

In the context of the ANR PASTALEG* project, researchers from INRA, INSERM and Montpellier SupAgro, in collaboration with a commercial firm, have validated the technological feasibility of incorporating a high proportion of legume flour (35%) in pasta. The product thus developed presented the advantages of both durum wheat and legumes, but also – thanks to the adaptation of certain manufacturing parameters – nutritional benefits linked to "structuring" of the foodstuff. By adjusting process parameters, manufacturers can thus modify the nutritional properties of their products while ensuring a constant composition. By adjusting process parameters, manufacturers can thus modify the nutritional properties of their products while ensuring a constant composition.

Pâtes alimentaires. Spaghetti.. © INRA, SLAGMULDER Christian
Updated on 12/17/2015
Published on 05/06/2009

The Mediterranean diet appears to play an essential role in population longevity and the prevention of different diseases. These "health" effects are attributed to the consumption of different categories of foods, which include durum wheat and legumes. Unlike durum wheat, legumes have seen a considerable reduction in their use, including in Mediterranean countries, to the point where they are now only consumed on average a few times a year. Hence the idea of the PASTALEG project partners to design a new, "Mediterranean-type" product combining durum wheat and legume (lentils, broad beans, split peas, chickpeas) flour, in the context of an underlying and important scientific issue: that of the influence of structure on the nutritional qualities of a food. In other words, are changes to the structure of a food induced by combining two ingredients in the same product, and/or adapting the manufacturing parameters of the product, likely to improve the nutritional qualities of this food?

The results obtained clearly demonstrated the technological feasibility of a dough including a high percentage of legume flour (35%, or about two or three times higher than that found in similar products available at present on the market), using standard manufacturing processes. From a nutritional point of view, the dough obtained contained high levels of protein, a good balance of essential amino acids and also high levels of fibre, vitamin B1, magnesium and phosphorus. On the other hand, it contained few lipids and alpha-galactosides, substances that are characteristic of legumes and cause flatulence. The inclusion of legume flour affected the in vitro protein digestibility of the dough, which could be expected to be slightly lower in vivo. Its glycaemic index (GI) should also be lower than that found in durum wheat dough, which is a very positive point in favour of this new food.

By modifying certain steps in the manufacturing process for a mixed "cereal-legume" dough, structural variations were obtained that influenced several nutritional properties (protein and amylase digestibility). This is the "matrix effect" at a small scale. The appropriate drying of legume-containing dough can thus achieve a useful reduction in the rapid carbohydrate content (by 11-14% per 100 g carbohydrate available), which is linked to the glycaemic response to the food and hence is glycaemic index (characteristic of its in vivo glycaemic potential). This important "small scale" matrix effect contrasts with the minor differences in nutritional properties obtained between a mixed dough (standard drying) and its equivalent in a mixed meal of "65% durum wheat spaghetti + 35% legume purée" ("large scale" matrix effect).

From an organoleptic point of view, the inclusion of this percentage of legume flour led to a product that differed from classic dried pasta (100% durum wheat). The choice of legume is an important parameter for consumer acceptance. For example, broad bean dough is more similar to standard durum wheat dough than split pea dough.

This study enabled the first demonstration of the impact of the detailed structure of a food on its nutritional properties (and notably its potential glycaemic index). A database containing all the results of this project, and enabling links between the manufacturing process, structure and nutritional properties of different pasta has thus been developed. It may help manufacturers to design products with improved nutritional value achieved by adjusting process parameters.

* ANR PASTALEG project: "Design of a food based on durum wheat and legumes – contribution of the structuring of ingredients to their nutritional and organoleptic qualities" ("Conception d'aliment à base de blé dur et de légumineuses – contribution de la structuration des constituents à leurs qualities nutritionnelles et organoleptiques".
This project has received funding for three years from the French National Research Agency (ANR) in the context of the National Programme for Research on Food and Nutrition (PNRA) – 2005.
Partners in the project: MTP SupAgro-INRA-UMII-CIRAD Joint Research Unit for Emerging Technology and Polymer Engineering (IATE) (Montpellier); INRA Research Unit on Biopolymers – Interactions and Assemblies (BIA) (Nantes); INRA-University of Nantes Joint Research Unit for Physiology of Nutritional Adaptation in Humans (PhAN) (Nantes); INSERM –INRA-Universities Aix-Marseille Joint Research Unit for Lipid Nutrients and Prevention of Metabolic Diseases (Marseille); CRECERPAL (Panzani).

Scientific contact(s):

  • Valérie MICARD (PASTALEG coordinator) (+33(0)4 99 61 24 77) UMR1208 Joint Research Unit for Emerging Technology and Polymer Engineering IATE, Montpellier SupAgro-INRA-UMII-CIRAD, 2 place Pierre Viala, 34060 Montpellier Cedex 1, France