Effect of Fractionation and Processing Conditions on the Digestibility of Plant Proteins as Food Ingredients

Andrea Rivera Del Rio, Remko M. Boom, Anja E.M. Janssen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Plant protein concentrates and isolates are used to produce alternatives to meat, dairy and eggs. Fractionation of ingredients and subsequent processing into food products modify the techno-functional and nutritional properties of proteins. The differences in composition and structure of plant proteins, in addition to the wide range of processing steps and conditions, can have ambivalent effects on protein digestibility. The objective of this review is to assess the current knowledge on the effect of processing of plant protein-rich ingredients on their digestibility. We obtained data on various fractionation conditions and processing after fractionation, including enzymatic hydrolysis, alkaline treatment, heating, high pressure, fermentation, complexation, extrusion, gelation, as well as oxidation and interactions with starch or fibre. We provide an overview of the effect of some processing steps for protein-rich ingredients from different crops, such as soybean, yellow pea, and lentil, among others. Some studies explored the effect of processing on the presence of antinutritional factors. A certain degree, and type, of processing can improve protein digestibility, while more extensive processing can be detrimental. We argue that processing, protein bioavailability and the digestibility of plant-based foods must be addressed in combination to truly improve the sustainability of the current food system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number870
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2022


  • alternative fractionation
  • heat treatment
  • in vitro protein digestion
  • plant protein digestibility
  • protein concentrates
  • protein isolates
  • protein modifications


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