Study highlights ‘promising’ method of combining dairy and plant protein in milk applications

“The objective of this study was to create a stable colloidal dispersion of casein micelles (CM) with pea protein (PP) to improve the solubility of PP in aqueous solution,”​ explained scientists from the Department of Food Science and Technology at The Ohio State University, who recently published their report in the Journal of Dairy Science​. The project was funded by the Parker Endowment (Department of Food Science and Technology, The Ohio State University, Columbus).

The findings detailed a novel method of supplementing cow milk with vegetable protein (pea protein) by encapsulating pea protein into CM molecules.

Pea protein was chosen by researchers because of its balanced branch chain amino acid structure and for its non-allergenic properties. 

Unlike previous research studies, researchers used readily available dairy processing equipment that could be easily reproduced in any dairy facility.

“As the dairy industry struggles to maintain consumer attention in the midst of declining fluid milk sales, the demand for plant-based protein is growing due to consumers’ desires for healthy high-protein products that are also environmentally conscious. This research combines these goals and offers potential for innovations with other plant-based proteins or nutraceuticals with low solubility, allowing the dairy industry to provide highly nutritious new products that also meet evolving consumer preferences,”​ wrote researchers. 

Successful casein and pea protein blend

The concept of a hybrid dairy and plant protein milk product is not new, however. Dairy Farmers of America launched their Live Real Farms Dairy+ milk blends (using dairy milk and either oat and almond milk) in 2019, but according to their website has since discontinued the product line. 

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