UK researchers aim to “Raise the Pulse” by encouraging beans in toast

19 January 2023 — The University of Reading encourages British consumers and food producers to switch to bread containing broad beans, arguing it is a healthier and more sustainable alternative to imported soybeans, which is currently used as an additive in bread production. .

The $2.4 million, three-year Raise Heartbeat project began earlier this week with the publication of a study in Nutrition Bulletin outlining the environmental, nutritional, and health benefits of heart-raised foods. The study aims to “bring a step change in the nutritional value of the diet of UK consumers” to improve the health and sustainability of the UK food system.

Program leader Professor Julie Lovegrove offers clues as to why the project is targeting bread.

“We had to think laterally: What do most people eat and how can we improve their diet without having to change their diet? The obvious answer is bread.”

“Ninety-six percent of people in the UK eat bread, and 90 percent of that is white bread that contains soy in most cases. We’ve already done some experiments and found that broad bean flour can directly replace imported soy flour and some of the nutrient-poor wheat flour,” he said. continues.

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“Here we can grow the broad beans and produce and test the bean-rich bread with improved nutritional quality.”

Raising the Heartbeat is a multidisciplinary research program funded by the UKRI Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council as part of the ‘Transforming UK Food Systems’ initiative.

Professor Julie Lovegrove promotes the use of broad beans in UK diets.Encourage change
The project outlines how faba beans, used primarily as animal feed in the UK, are ideally placed to replace soybeans. Researchers are optimizing the sustainability and nutritional quality of pods grown on UK soil to encourage farmers to reallocate land reserved for wheat production to produce pods for human consumption.

Raising the Pulse aims to improve the growing, harvesting and grinding stages of bean production. Researchers will select or grow healthy, high-yielding varieties, work with the soil to increase yields through nitrogen-fixing bacteria, mitigate the environmental impacts of growing broad beans, plan for a changing climate, and more.

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The study notes that the broad bean pod has “the highest yield potential and nitrogen fixation rates in the UK and worldwide”, and also provides valuable floral resources for a variety of pollinators.

Nutritionally, legumes are high in easily digestible protein, fiber and iron, which may be low in the diets of UK consumers. However, the project notes that these consumers are largely unfamiliar with cooking and eating broad beans, which poses a significant hurdle.

Testing the water
Adjusting consumer behavior to accept new diets is often deceptive; The study notes that “encouraging people to make better food choices is difficult because factors such as affordability, convenience, and taste often take precedence over the attainment of health and environmental benefits.”

The project aims to test the response to faba diets by examining students at the University of Reading. Catering stores will offer new foods to students through the “Changing Menus” research program. Matt Tebbit, who runs the program, explains more.

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“Students will be asked to rate products made with or fortified with broad beans, such as bread, flatbread, and hummus. They will be asked how full they feel, how long they feel full, and how much they like food,” she explains.

“It is hoped that Faba beans will increase satiety and provide enhanced nutritional benefits in delightful products.”

In terms of changes in consumer behavior, Innova Market Insights cites “Redefining Value” and “Affordable Eating” as the top and second Top Trends for 2023. Customers are responding to the cost of living crisis and sustainability concerns by turning to products they feel are showcased. nutritional, economic and global benefits.

By James Davies

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