Functional Seeds

Biofunctional properties of sweet lupin and sunflower – characterization of bioactive components and their interactions with the intestinal microbiome

Workgroup: Plant-based foods

Research Partner and Scientific Guidance:

  1. Fraunhofer-Institut für Verfahrenstechnik und Verpackung IVV Freising, Dr. Susanne Gola
  2. Technische Universität München, Lehrstuhl für Ernährung und Immunologie, Prof. Dr. Dirk Haller

IGF: 22014 N
Financing: BMWK
Duration: 2022 – 2024

In recent years, the demand for healthy, natural, regional, and sustainable foods has grown steadily. In addition to vegan or vegetarian consumers, the general population is also showing an increased interest in plant-based foods. In the past, the main focus of plant-based food ingredients and applications was to provide protein. However, plant-based ingredients also contain other valuable compounds that can provide additional health benefits.

These health benefits are attributed to the presence of bioactive components, which include dietary fiber and secondary plant compounds, especially polyphenols. In recent years, the health effects of both substance classes have been increasingly linked to bile acid metabolism and the gut microbiome. Thus, a lack of plant-based food could lead to negative changes in the composition of the intestinal microbiome. These changes are associated with the emergence of chronic diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, allergies, autoimmune diseases and obesity. Therefore, the interaction between polyphenols and dietary fiber with bile acids and the intestinal microbiome influences several essential health processes. However, the content and maintenance of these bioactive components have not been considered in product formulation to date, as the underlying mechanisms of action have not been fully elucidated.

The project aims to evaluate the nutritional value of sunflower and lupin flours with a high potential for food application. Sunflowers and lupins include high levels of bioactive components and are also characterized by their regionality and sustainability. The nutritional evaluation includes in-vitro and ex-vivo studies on the impact of the bioactive components on the interaction with bile acids and the microbiome. Thereby, indicators for mechanisms of action will be provided, which will be verified by a "proof of concept" study in human volunteers. By comparing the effect of the flours with isolated fractions of the bioactive components, the role of the food matrix will also be elucidated. From these investigations, knowledge on the processing of these ingredients while preserving the bioactivity is received and tested in various applications. This knowledge will then enable the participating companies to develop foods with additional health benefits with regard to the microbiome.

The IGF project presented here by the Research Association of the Industrial Association for Food Technology and Packaging (IVLV e.V.) is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action as part of the program for the promotion of industrial community research (IGF) based on a decision of the German Bundestag.