Food Chemistry

Food proteins

Our aim is to gain knowledge of the effect of processing on the biochemical and physicochemical properties of proteins in raw materials, ingredients and foods, in relation to their functional and nutritional properties. Since proteins vary widely in their structure, their functional properties will diverge accordingly. Additionally, the functionality of proteins is influenced by the isolation procedure, (physico-)chemical or enzymatic modification, and the composition and processing route of the food in which they are applied. Besides the use of proteins as food ingredient, we also focus on their breakdown by digestive enzymes. Knowledge of structure-function relationships of proteins in foods, and the interaction between proteins and other food constituents form the basis for the development of modern processes, new ingredients or higher quality products.

Description of theme 

In the group there are four major research lines.

1)Novel and current plant proteins (including microalgae): Focused at isolation methods, complications to replace animal-based proteins, protein-phenol interactions, off-taste/off-colour formation and characterization of the obtained concentrates/isolates.

2) Enzymatic hydrolysis of proteins: To describe the protein hydrolysis a unique method has been developed to identify and quantify peptides in several stages of the hydrolysis process. This allowed further development of concepts to characterize this process and relevant molecular properties of both protease and substrate.

3) Maillard reactions: In order to understand the effects of Maillard reactions on ingredient functionality and protein digestibility we developed adequate methods to quantify the extent of modification.

4) Foam- and emulsifying properties of proteins: We develop methods and concepts to describe functional properties based on the protein molecular properties.

Our group stands out in the analysis of proteins and peptides by liquid-chromatography techniques as AEC, SEC, HILIC and advanced analytical techniques as LC-MS to analyse intact proteins and peptides. We combine the information obtained with these techniques with protein conformation (circular dichroism, light-scattering) and protein functionality (several methods). We also have several pH-stat units to simulate in vitro digestion.

Research Projects