NSERC awards Dr. Manick Annamalai, Dr. Loong-Tak Lim and Dr. Maria Corradini's research in novel pulse flours

Posted on Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

Written by Elizabeth Thomson

Photo of different types of beans and pulses in bowls

School of Engineering associate professor, Dr. Manick Annamalai has secured a $540,000 Alliance grant from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada. The funded project entitled “Development of value-added pulse-flour for potential ingredient in domestic and industrial food preparation” aligns with Manick’s ongoing research efforts to improve the availability of safe and healthy food. In partnership with co-applicants Dr. Loong-Tak Lim and Dr. Maria Corradini  from the Ontario Agricultural College’s Food Science department, the funding helps to recognize the U of G’s success in interdisciplinary research.

Collaborating with Hensall Food Inc, the research will address the increasing demand for plant proteins globally. Canada is the second largest producer and the biggest exporter of pulses in the world. The development of value-added pulse flour will benefit both the economy and Canadian farmers. To date pulse flour has faced two important barriers: the presence of antinutrients and indigestible carbohydrates, and pulse’s beany flavor. Research that can remove these barriers through advanced processing technology will help address the high demand for plant protein food products. The pulse flours produced can be used as stand-alone ingredients or blended with more traditional wheat flours to increase protein content.

Dr. Manick recognized that “Despite Health Canada’s guidelines to eat more plant-based proteins, Canadian’s consumption remains quite low.” A recent peer-reviewed study published in Nutrients demonstrated that “increasing Canadian pulse intake to 100 g/day would result in annual savings on healthcare and related expenses of up to $62 million and $316 million for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, respectively.” Future products using enhanced pulse flours could help Canadian’s adopt a healthier diet.

Dr. Manick sees this project as “field to fork” bringing together agricultural expertise with innovative food sciences and innovative technologies. The project capitalizes on numerous novel procedures developed in U of G laboratories, and the pre-processing, milling, and processing capabilities of Hensall Foods facilities.” Through this research and development partnership, “together we can bolster Canadian industry and offer new and healthier flour choices for Canadians,” says Dr. Manick.

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