TEASER: Bean ingredients may add protein, fiber and a neutral flavor profile.
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, U.S. — Food formulators might consider bean ingredients as a way to enhance grain-based foods, not replace them, said Janice Rueda who works in the edible beans area for Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM). Bean ingredients may add protein and fiber while offering a neutral flavor profile, she said Oct. 19 at the AACC International Centennial Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.

“That’s not substituting the grains,” she said. “That’s enhancing the grains and partnering in collaboration with those grain-based products.”

For improved nutritional profiles, she gave cheese puffs as one example. Replacing 50% of the corn in the cheese puffs with navy bean powder may double the amount of protein in the product and may lead to a four-fold increase in the amount of fiber. In chocolate chip cookies, Rueda has incorporated 19% navy bean powder and 8% sorghum to achieve 3 grams of fiber per 35-gram serving.

Bean ingredients may increase the palatability and acceptability of whole grain foods, she said. ADM cooks the beans to give them a neutral flavor and to keep them from having the sharp green flavor associated with some raw bean flour, she added.

Bean ingredients are on trend in such areas as clean label, convenience and sustainability, Rueda said. Besides fiber and protein, they also may add potassium and magnesium to grain-based products.

Bean ingredients probably will cost more than cereal grain. Making a 100% bean product is probably not the most cost-effective product development strategy, Rueda said.

“But certainly adding bean at an inclusion level of perhaps 25% can increase the nutritional profile (of a product),” she said.

Beans and cereal grains are both staple food crops that are eaten in large amounts around the world, said Henry J. Thompson, director of the cancer prevention laboratory at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, U.S. They are affordable and accessible. Like Rueda, Thompson promoted the idea of incorporating both beans and cereal grains into a new product launch. He said such a strategy could “bust the fiber gap,” meaning it could increase the amount of fiber people eat and push them closer to the recommended daily amount.

“If it’s not a moral imperative, I think it’s a marketing paradise,” Thompson said.