Maria Eugenia Jimenez

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Maria Eugenia Jimenez

Research Title: Lactic fermentation as a tool to improve the antioxidant characteristics of amaranth (Amaranthus caudatus) and faba beans (Vicia faba).

Project Summary: There is an ever-increasing demand for healthy foods, including foods that are rich in bioactive peptides. Bioactive peptides are released from their precursor proteins by enzymatic hydrolysis or by microbial fermentation and can have a wide range of health-promoting activities, including antioxidant activity. Biologically active peptides with potential antioxidant activity can be derived from a variety of animal and plant protein sources. Indeed, recently, antioxidant peptides were isolated from various cereal flours fermented with sourdoughs. In particular, a pool of lactic acid bacteria (LAB), selected based on their proteolytic activities, showed the capacity to release antioxidant peptides during sourdough fermentation of whole wheat, spelt, rye, and kamut doughs.
The aim of this project is to evaluate the effect of fermentation, using LAB isolated from the raw materials, on the functional and nutritional properties of dough prepared with flours of faba beans grown in Ireland, and compare them with amaranth from Northwest Argentina.
To achieve this aim, the lactic bacteria of amaranth and faba beans will be isolated, identified and selected according to their proteolytic activity. The action of the selected bacteria on the proteins and the formation of antioxidant peptides will be studied. These peptides will be purified and identified, and their antioxidant activity will undergo initial testing in vitro and through cell culture assays. These assays will allow the identification of the ferments with the greatest health promoting potential and these will in turn be used for in vivo, murine, testing to evaluate the effect of the consumption of fermented amaranth and faba beans, enriched with antioxidant peptides, on health. The results obtained will allow the ultimate development of a functional food, rich in antioxidant peptides and LAB, which will beneficially impact on the health of consumers.

E-mail: maria.jimenez@ucc.ie