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Protein from plant-based “meat” may not be better absorbed by the body than protein from chicken breast

Proteins in meat substitutes made from wheat and soybeans may be less likely to be absorbed into the bloodstream from the small intestine than protein from chicken breast.


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June 22, 2022

In laboratory experiments, the protein in the meat substitute (left) was not absorbed by enterocytes, and the protein in chicken breast (right) was absorbed.

Revision from Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2022

Dietary protein from plant-based meat substitutes may not be absorbed as well as protein from chicken breast.

“This work opens the door to the nutritional properties of plant-based meat substitutes,” he says. Da Chen When Oswald Campanella At Ohio State University.

In their laboratory-based experiments, Chen, Campanella, and their colleagues grew a human layer. Intestines Cells on the scaffold that divided several dishes into two chambers. The stomach and small intestine enzymes were then used to digest plant-based meat substitutes and cooked chicken breast, and then each digested product was added to one chamber on each dish.

The team then measured the amount of protein fragments (or peptides) that passed through the layers of enterocytes and reached the opposite chamber of each dish. This represents the absorption of protein through the intestine.

Within 4 hours of being added to the dish, which is the typical transit time of food in the small intestine, protein from plant-based alternative meat is transferred via enterocytes compared to chicken protein. 2% less. chest. Statistical analysis suggests that this result was not a coincidence, albeit with a slight percentage difference.

Therefore, eating meat substitutes can reduce the amount of protein absorbed into the bloodstream from the intestinal wall. Researchers did not assess whether this reduced absorption leads to protein deficiency.

In the second part of the experiment, the team analyzed peptides in digested foods and found that protein fragments from chicken breast were smaller and more soluble in water than meat substitute peptides.

“Small and large peptides [solubility] Easier to transfer [these gut] “Cells,” says Campanella and Chen.

However, they say that the laboratory model is a very simplified version of the intestine, lacking the inner layer of mucus found in the body.

“In the intestine, the peptide must pass through a mucous layer that acts as a filter before it can reach the intestinal epithelial cells. [We tested protein absorption] Without considering the mucous layer, “says Pair.

Protein absorption can also be different in the large intestine. In the large intestine, food can stay for up to 24 hours, a time frame that was not evaluated in the experiment.

In addition, protein uptake from other meats other than plant-based meat substitutes and chicken breasts depends on the composition and processing of the individual proteins.

Despite their results, the team claims that plant-based meat substitutes are probably a good source of protein.

“Plant-based meats can provide a good profile of amino acids and adequately complement a balanced diet, even if less peptides are absorbed,” says Campanella and Chen.

Researchers are currently working to improve the nutrition absorbed from plant-based meat substitutes.

“Plant-based foods need to be carefully designed to have a nutritional profile equal to or better than animal-based foods,” he said. David Julian McClements At the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Journal reference: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry , DOI: doi.org/10.1021/acs.jafc.2c01711

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Protein from plant-based “meat” may not be better absorbed by the body than protein from chicken breast

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