An open window onto the food of the near future: Can legume seed proteins be a valid alternative to animal sources to fulfill the growing need of food proteins?
The need of food proteins fulfilling a number of requisites, which include being sustainable, cost- and labor-effective, safe and secure, health-promoting, process-prone and possibly not too far from the usual food habits of the consumers, is acute. In the plant kingdom suitable dietary protein sources can be found where they are especially abundant: that is in the edible legume seeds, which may reach up to 40% protein on the dry weight basis. Some constraints are currently limiting a greater consumption of pulses and oil-bearing legume seeds, but ways to overcome most of these bottlenecks are at hand, provided holistic strategies are being implemented.
WHY ARE THE NEED OF FOOD PROTEINS INCREASING AND THE PROTEIN SOURCES CHANGING?
A plethora of articles, scientific and popular papers, reviews, TV and radio broadcasts on dietary habits and food trends is literally inundating the consumers worldwide, with the frequent unfavorable effect of hampering the clear identification and choice of personal and appropriate ways to nutrition and health. Notwithstanding, this trend reflects an exponentially increased concern and awareness on food related issues. Therefore, the need of scientifically sound, accessible and independent advice in the field, springing from academic and public institutions, is pivotal to avoid confusion and improper behaviors and contribute to a balanced, sustainable and healthy nutrition for all.<