US develops novel method of supplementing cow milk with vegetable protein

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This may open opportunities to create new functional, multi-sourced dairy products

Scientists from the Department of Food Science and Technology at The Ohio State University (US) have developed a novel method of supplementing cow milk with vegetable protein using readily available current dairy processing equipment.

Approximately 80% of the protein in cow milk takes the form of casein, which naturally binds together to form large spherical molecules suspended in the water component of milk. However, protein does not readily dissolve in water- one end of the casein protein is attracted to water (hydrophilic) and the other is repelled by it (hydrophobic). When the proteins join together, the exterior of the resulting large molecule, called the casein micelle, is made up of the water-attracted end of the protein, while the core of the casein micelle is the water-repellant side.

This structure allows casein micelles to carry most of the vitamins and minerals, such as calcium which, like proteins, do not dissolve easily in water that make milk such a nutritious part of the diet.

“Our research team used these unique features of casein micelles to turn them into transporters of additional protein from a plant-derived source, in this case, peas,” said the researchers.

This research offers potential for innovations with other plant-based proteins or nutraceuticals with low solubility, allowing the dairy industry to provide highly nutritious new products.



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