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Br J Nutr. 2002 Dec;88 Suppl 3:S293-306.

Carbohydrate fractions of legumes: uses in human nutrition and potential for health.

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  • 1URPOI & UFDNH, National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA), Rue de la Géraudière, BP 71627, 44316 Nantes Cedex, 03, France.


Starch and fibre can be extracted, using wet or dry processes, from a variety of grain legumes and used as ingredients for food. alpha-Galactosides can be isolated during wet processes from the soluble extract. Starch isolates or concentrates are mostly produced from peas, whereas dietary fibre fractions from peas and soyabean are commercially available. The physico-chemical characteristics of fibre fractions very much depend on their origin, outer fibres being very cellulosic whereas inner fibres contain a majority of pectic substances. Inner fibres are often used as texturing agents whereas outer fibres find their main uses in bakery and extruded products, where they can be introduced to increase the fibre content of the food. Most investigations on impacts on health have been performed on soyabean fibres. When positive observations were made on lipaemia, glucose tolerance or faecal excretion, they were unfortunately often obtained after non-realistic daily doses of fibres. Legume starches contain a higher amount of amylose than most cereal or tuber starches. This confers these starches a lower bioavailability than that of most starches, when raw or retrograded. Their low glycaemic index can be considered as beneficial for health and especially for the prevention of diseases related to insulin resistance. When partly retrograded, these starches can provide significant amount of butyrate to the colonic epithelium and may help in colon cancer prevention. alpha-Galactosides are usually considered as responsible for flatus but their apparent prebiotic effects may be an opportunity to valorize these oligosaccharides.

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