prof. dr. ir. Raes Katleen
Can fermentation increase the nutritional value of plant based foods?
Plant based foods are often rich in minerals but due to the presence of antinutritional components, their nutritional value can be rather low. With specific fermentation processes it is possible reduce the levels of antinutritional factors such as phytate or phenolic compounds if they are well controled. In developing countries however, most fermentation processes are spontaneously or conducted by back-slopping techniques. This means that the processes are running in an uncontrolled environment and that quality can be questionable. On the other hand, the microflora associated with these fermented products can be extremely rich in diversity or can have unique properties.
We are studying processes for traditional porridges and fermented foods produced from sorghum, millet or teffin in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia aiming to increase their nutritional value. This work contributes to the reduction of mineral deficiencies in developing countries with communities that depend primarily on plant based diets.