The sustainability paradox of processing plant proteins Patrícia Duque-estrada
The production of sustainable plant-based foods is not simply a question of which process has the lowest environmental impact in the food chain. We have to consider that different degrees of processing might result in different degrees of plant protein nutritional quality in the final food product.
Where the paradox stands
Protein transition has been considered one of the approaches to tackle climate change by reducing the intake of animal proteins and increasing the intake of plant proteins1. However, this transition is challenging due to the lower nutritional quality of plant proteins compared to animal proteins, limiting their incorporation into our diets. Protein nutritional quality is defined as the ability of a protein to supply enough of the essential amino acids (EAAs), those that can not be synthesized in the human body, according to the dietary requirements of a target group2. Therefore, the protein quality is largely affected by EAAs composition as well as protein digestibility, meaning how much of ingested protein is broken down to amino acids and di- or tripeptides in our digestive system and thereby available for absorption3.
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