Thinking about human nutrition as we develop alternative protein sources

So much of the development of plant-based food has been to replicate the taste and texture of animal-based products, which is certainly beneficial for the health of animals and the environment, but what about us? As we are still optimizing formulations for many plant-based products, and still developing cell-based meat, this may be the time to get in at the ground level in formulating these products to actually be healthier than their animal-based counterparts.

Great point!

@cnatan, I know this is something you’ve also talked about.

Moving this discussion into Key Issues.

@kaweikel I could not agree with you more. The topic of nutrition is one that we actively doing research on and very much want to incorporate in our prize design. I agree that alternative products need to be formulated to be healthier. The problem areas I keep seeing in terms of nutrition is saturated fat and sodium levels are too high and vitamins/mineral components are quite low. Do you have any thoughts on how alternative products can be nutritious please?

There are more and more functional foods coming on the market each day. The advantage that I see for plant-based and cell-based food development is that consumers of these products may be more accepting of these nutrition-focused food ingredients, even if the ingredient list is a bit longer.

In the area of plant-based meat, many products seek to recreate the animal-based counterpart in texture and flavor, and keeping the saturated fat levels comparable is one way to achieve that goal. However, animal-based meat products contain very little if any sodium, so this is an area where I think we can make a difference. Some of the technical functions of sodium can be achieved through other ingredients that are healthier for our bodies, such as rare sugars. Rare sugars such as allulose and tagatose can serve many of the same functions as salt and conventional sugar, but these sugars are actually good for the body - low GI, prebiotics, reduce risk for tooth decay.

I think with some exploration into various functional food ingredients, we can find a way to enhance not only the taste/texture of plant-based or even cell-based products but also their nutritional profile.

@kaweikel thank you for your insights. We will definitely look into researching the functionality of various food ingredients. If you have any other areas we should focus on, please let us know. Thank you again!

@kaweikel - see my longer comment on this forum page:

thanks, @marz62 . Part of this story is finding the best protein sources, but as you point out there is so much more to tackling this problem then coming up with the perfect formula. We need to think not only of our view as first worlders, but the cultures and practices that are happening globally.

I like all the comments shared in this discourse. My contribution is to grow grass, grass, and more grass!

@themben Yes, but aquatic grass… Duckweed can be grown in 2" trays of water; we did it on a project at a tilapia farm. Grows WAY faster (as little as 24 hour doubling), is much higher in protein (up to 50% reported), and the most complete food.,NIU-BBA-AM-Digestive%20mailshot

@kaweikel I love that you brought this up! Most of the meat alternatives I’ve seen contain either or both soy and wheat as ingredients. Soy, although a plant protein alternative is also a high allergen food and has been shown to be mucus forming. There are many disorders being linked to the consumption of wheat in biomedical literature. Wheat can loosen the tight junctions in the stomach and intestines causing gut permeability and creating inflammation that leads to disease and an increase in food intollorance.

@cnatan what about the addition of enzymes to these meat alternatives? Enzymes like astrazyme which is a combination of the astragen molecule and systemic enzymes. Astrazyme can assist in breaking down the nutrients and making the proteins more bioavailable.