Nutrition: Rapeseed should be opened up as a new protein source

Oilseed rape: a new protein resource for humans

Have you tried rapeseed salad or rapeseed cake? Rather unlikely because the protein-rich seeds have an intolerably bitter note. However, this could change soon, because a German research team recently identified the crucial substance that is responsible for the bitter taste. This paves the way for developing rapeseed for human consumption.

Rapeseed is rich in oil and high-quality proteins. The latter have so far not been usable for human consumption, since rapeseed has an intense bitter taste that makes it inedible. Researchers at the Technical University of Munich have now exposed the responsible bitter substance and now want to develop a process that is supposed to transform bitter rapeseed into a tasty and protein-rich food. The research results were recently published in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry".

Coming bottlenecks in protein supply

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) points out that in view of the growing world population there will be increasing supply problems. "In this context, bottlenecks are to be expected in particular with regard to protein supply," reports Thomas Hofmann, head of the Chair for Food Chemistry and Molecular Sensor Technology at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in a press release on the study results.

The country needs new sources of protein

Hofmann emphasizes that it is therefore particularly important to develop new plant and local sources for daily protein needs. Rabseed is very suitable for this - apart from the bitter taste. So far, only rapeseed oil has been produced from the seeds. This would result in over a million tons of crude protein, which until now have only been used as protein feed in animal fattening. This rapeseed cake is very rich in high-quality proteins, which contain many essential amino acids.

On the way to a tasty rapeseed

In the study, the team around Hofmann identified the main person responsible for the bitter taste. It is a compound with the complicated name "Kaempferol-3-O- (2‘ ’’ - O-sinapoyl-ß-sophoroside) ". In the first attempts, the researchers were already able to isolate a protein from the oilseed rape that contains less than 10 percent of the original bitter substances. "Still too bitter," said testers in taste tests.

When does the rapeseed cake come on the table?

"Now that we know who caused the bitterly bad mark, it is much easier to develop suitable technological processes or breeding strategies that can be used to produce tasty, protein-rich foods from rapeseed," sums up the co-author of the study Corinna Dawid. Maybe rapeseed will soon be on supermarket shelves as a new staple. (vb)

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