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Research on the application of carbohydrates in plant protein meat

Plant protein meat

Salt-lytic myofibrillins play a dominant role in texture formation and water fixation in processed meats. In plant protein-based vegetarian meat products, carbohydrates are usually used as binders and structural aids to improve texture, increase the water holding capacity of plant meat, and improve product texture. Carbohydrates can be divided into 2 major categories: the first category is polysaccharides and their derivatives colloids, and the second category is digestible starch.

1. Polysaccharide colloids and their derivatives

Polysaccharide colloids can be extracted from seaweed (such as carrageenan and seaweed), trees (gum arabic), or produced through microbial fermentation (xanthan gum). Due to its polyol (OH group) structure, usually with negatively charged groups (sulfur and carboxyl groups), it is able to strongly bind water through hydrogen bonds and ion-dipole interactions, thereby improving the thickness and consistency of plant-based meat and reducing Cooking losses.

Carrageenan is a type of sulfated anionic polysaccharide extracted from red algae. According to the number and position of sulfate groups on the galactose/anhydrogalactose chain, it is mainly divided into three categories: k type, iota type and lambda type. Among them, k-type carrageenan contains one sulfate group in each disaccharide repeating unit, and iota and lambda types contain 2 and 3 sulfate groups respectively.

Under certain conditions, k-carrageenan and iota-carrageenan can form a “double helix structure” due to intramolecular ring closing caused by heating, which can form a thermally reversible gel, so it plays an important role in regulating the structure of extruded materials.

In addition to the type of carrageenan, the amount added also has an important impact on the structure of the texturized protein. At a lower carrageenan addition amount (less than 1%), as the carrageenan addition amount increases, the texture degree of high-humidity extruded peanut protein first increases and then decreases, and when the carrageenan addition amount is 0.1%, the fiber The chemical structure is the most obvious, while the hardness and chewiness are reduced.

When added in a medium amount (1%~3%), carrageenan reduces the hardness, cohesion and viscosity of SPI extrudates to a certain extent, without significant impact on elasticity. At higher addition amounts (3%~7%), iota carrageenan (6%) formed a more compact network structure in SPC extrudates, increased the degree of fibrosis, and improved the rehydration rate and digestibility. , among which disulfide bonds and hydrogen bonds are the main forces maintaining the organized structure.

Many plant-based meat products contain methylcellulose, which is a modified dietary fiber that enhances the emulsification effect in animal meat. Adding an appropriate amount of methylcellulose to plant-based meat can act as a binder.

From a nutritional perspective, methylcellulose can produce a viscous solution in the gastrointestinal tract, which, like other dietary fibers, has an effect on glucose metabolism. Adding guar gum can further improve the hardness, elasticity, cohesion and viscosity of SPI extruded samples. Pectin is distributed in the continuous phase of SPI. When the pectin concentration and shear temperature increase, the pectin fiber length increases and the anisotropy increases.

2. Starch

Starch, as a type of polymer carbohydrate, can be divided into amylose and amylopectin. When exposed to water, it can form a gel through gelatinization and aging. Due to its low price, renewable nature, and rapid biodegradation, it is often used as a thickener and stabilizer in meat product processing.

In plant-based meat products, in addition to protein, starch is the main component. By combining with water and fixing fat, it improves rheology, texture and consistency, reduces water analysis, and emulsifies oil.

3. Fat mimics

Animal fats are a major contributor to meat’s flavor, texture, juiciness and mouthfeel. Natural fats are a mixture of glycerides, mostly saturated fatty acids. The melting point of fat increases with the length of the fatty acid carbon chain and the degree of saturation. The melting point of pork fat is about 28~48℃, and the melting point of beef fat is 40~50℃.

The animal fats we see every day are all solid, while most of the vegetable fats are unsaturated fatty acids, which have a low boiling point and are liquid at room temperature. In order to simulate animal fat, coconut oil (24°C) and palm oil (up to 58°C) with high melting points are mainly used as vegetable fats.

To develop a texture and mouthfeel similar to animal fats, solid fats extracted from tropical fruits, such as coconut and cocoa beans, are blended with liquid oils that contain more unsaturated fatty acids, such as sunflower and canola oils.

To give plant-based burgers and sausages the marbled look of regular ground beef and pork sausage patties, a mixture of saturated and unsaturated oils is whipped into little globs of white fat. To ensure nutrition and flavor, sesame oil and avocado oil are added.


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