Nutritional properties and health aspects of pulses and their use in plant-based yogurt alternatives


Plant-based yogurt alternatives are increasing in market value, while dairy yogurt sales are stagnating or even declining. The plant-based yogurt alternatives market is currently dominated by products based on coconut or soy.

Coconut-based products especially are often low in protein and high in saturated fat, while soy products raise consumer concerns regarding genetically modified soybeans, and soy allergies are common.

Pulses are ideally suited as a base for plant-based yogurt alternatives due to their high protein content and beneficial amino acid composition.

This review provides an overview of pulse nutrients, pro-nutritional and anti-nutritional compounds, how their composition can be altered by fermentation, and the chemistry behind pulse protein coagulation by acid or salt denaturation.

An extensive market review on plant-based yogurt alternatives provides an overview of the current worldwide market situation. It shows that pulses are ideal base ingredients for yogurt alternatives due to their high protein content, amino acid composition, and gelling behavior when fermented with lactic acid bacteria. Additionally, fermentation can be used to reduce anti-nutrients such as α-galactosides and vicine or trypsin inhibitors, further increasing the nutritional value of pulse-based yogurt alternatives.

Average nutritional composition of different plant-based yogurt alternatives, and a whole milk yogurt for comparison. Error bars have been omitted for clarity. See supplementary Table S3 for values and standard deviations
Energy content in kcal per 100 g, and kcal from protein per 100 kcal of reviewed plant-based yogurt alternatives. The gray horizontal lines signify the minimum requirements of kcal from protein per 100 kcal for the EU nutrition claim of “source of protein” and “high protein”


While not yet widely used in plant-based yogurt alternatives, pulses possess many traits that make them an excellent alternative to the currently predominant soy-, coconut-, and almond-based yogurt alternatives on the market.

Pulses are high in protein, and while low in sulfur-containing amino acids, due to their high lysine content, they are complementary to a diet rich in cereals and therefore lacking in this amino acid. Pulses are also rich in phenolic acids, polyphenols, saponins, and flavonoids, which can be beneficial due to their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancerogenic properties.

On the other hand, pulses also contain anti-nutritional factors such as lectins, trypsin inhibitors, and phytates, which can result in decreased intestinal nutrient uptake. Vicine and convicine, glycosides present in faba bean, can cause hemolytic anemia in susceptible individuals.

Some antinutritional factors, such as trypsin inhibitors, vicine, convicine, and α-galactosides, can be reduced or even almost eliminated by fermentation, while the level of beneficial compounds like isoflavones and antioxidants can be increased.

The effect of fermentation is strongly dependent on strains, substrate, and fermentation conditions, however. More research is needed to be able to influence pulse constituents in a controlled way by fermentation. In experimental set-ups as well as in commercially available plant-based yogurt alternatives, pulses have proven to be well-suited substrates for lactic acid fermentation with traditional yogurt cultures.

Current plant-based yogurts alternatives use a plethora of thickeners and stabilizers to attain satisfactory textures. More research into acid- and salt-induced gelling behavior of pulse proteins could result in “clean label” yogurt alternatives with promising market prospects.

Website Link (Journal article from Wiley Online Library)

Published by RenSun Lee

Kia ora! Sustainability is at the core of my soul ever since I was a kid. I always strive to finish the food on my plate and live as a minimalist. I love to cut down on waste in order to live sustainably and harmoniously with our planet. This brings me to my passion as a Food Scientist to integrate new technologies into innovative and creative solutions to meet customer demands and market trends and to optimize products and processes for quality, savings and sustainability. To these goals, I have published a Journal on my work on sustainable packaging and patented a new Antimicrobial wash. Nothing is more satisfying than working hard and smart at the workplace and playing hard outside of working hours. I enjoy rejuvenating myself through spending quality time with my two adorable kids and my awesome soul mate and getting close to nature when possible, be it gardening, tramping or going to the beach. I also love to learn about our magnificent universe and how sustainability is working in the grand scheme of things. I strongly believe that Work, Life & Balance is the key to a healthy state of mind, both physically and mentally. I look forward to making a positive difference wherever and whenever I can. Through this Blog, I hope to catalog recent Food Trends and Food Technologies that I come across so that anyone who is interested can have access to it (articles and resources). Please use these resources at your discretion. On top of that, I would also like to share related news and technologies of the future that would help mankind advance towards a Type 1 Civilization. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to share and contribute to the “Resources“. I would like to thank you in advance for dropping by. I sincerely hope that you can benefit from the recent Food Trends and Food Technologies I catalogued. Kind regards | Ngā mihi RenSun Lee

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