Engineering the next generation of healthy foods (WARREN_Q17ICASE)

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Graduate Office


This project offers an opportunity to join an exciting collaboration between the Quadram Biosciences Institute (QBI) and PepsiCo to help develop a new generation of snack foods. The world is currently facing major nutritional challenges; in this project we strive for the development of intelligently engineered healthier snack foods, which combine the reduced fat and increased protein with excellent consumer perception. The project will involve the development of innovative food products using novel technologies, and will include a placement at PepsiCo to work in their R&D team on developing innovative food materials.
The nutritional quality of foods is about far more than their simple composition in terms of carbohydrate, protein and fat, and also includes the way that foods are structured and breakdown in the digestive tract. This project will utilise cutting-edge models of the oral and digestive system available at QBI, combined with advanced LC-MS based platforms for assessing protein breakdown and nutrient release to understand the relationship between structure and food breakdown in the digestive system. This information will be combined with structural characterisation of the food matrix and sensory assessments made using the sensory panels available at PepsiCo in order to provide a framework for the design and engineering of innovative and nutritious structured foods.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011216/1 30/09/2015 29/09/2023
1941053 Studentship BB/M011216/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2022 Jennifer Jitvadee McClure
Description • Snack formulations were developed which incorporated chickpea and red lentil flour to provide different ratios of resistant starch/protein through replacement of potato starch.

• Extrusion processing was used for the production of pulse incorporated snacks.

• Structural characterisation differences at different moisture levels were assessed for effects on extruded product.

• Higher moisture formulations resulted in increased gelatinisation in extrudates. This corresponded with more expansion upon heating.

• The expansion method used was optimised to limit use of fat while producing a high level of expansion.

• Temperature increase during expansion affected extrudates containing lower amounts of pulse flour at a greater degree, higher temperature resulted in increased bulk density.

• Expansion temperature was found to affect the colour of the finished product due to increased Maillard reaction at higher temperatures.

• Pulse incorporation percentage was found to have a greater effect on finished product colour

• In vitro starch digestion using alpha-amylase was carried out to investigate the effect of mechanical processing (extrusion) on starch digestibility.

• Processed snacks were demonstrated to be more rapidly digestible in comparison to raw materials.

• Snacks with different incorporations of pulse flour digested less rapidly as the incorporation level increased.

• Starch crystallinity of raw materials and extrudates was measured using X-ray diffraction

• Raw potato starch contained higher starch crystallinity percentage than either pulse flour (chickpea and red lentil)

• Raw materials in general exhibited higher percentage of starch crystallinity in comparison to extrusion processed samples.

• Increase in pulse incorporation of extrudates resulted in a decrease in starch crystallinity

• Rate of digestibility was influenced by pulse incorporation percentage at high moisture (35%) formulations with increasing pulse incorporation resulting in decreased digestibility rate; not significantly different at low moisture (25%)

• Increased pulse incorporation was found to decrease starch gelatinisation in extrudates and expanded snacks due to water competition

• The extent of starch digestibility was influenced by the degree of starch gelatinisation in expanded snacks with strong correlation observed between C infinity and gelatinisation enthalpy
Exploitation Route Outcomes of this project will be useful for the food industry, in particular the snack industry in the production and formulation of novel (high protein) snacks.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

Description Norwich Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Connected with the general public at annual outreach event - engagement activity a using human model prop to explain human digestion of different food types. Had lots of interest from school pupils with questions related to healthy eating and human digestion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019