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Improving protein content and nutrition quality

Burstin, J., Gallardo, K., Mir, R.R., Varshney, R.K.ORCID: 0000-0002-4562-9131 and Duc, G. (2011) Improving protein content and nutrition quality. In: Pratap, A. and Kumar, J., (eds.) Biology and Breeding of Food Legumes. CABI.


Legumes have been part of the human diet since the early ages of agriculture. Many legume species are still an irreplaceable source of dietary proteins and other nutrients for humans, especially in vegetarian diets of the developing countries (Wang et al., 2003). Legume seeds contain from 16 to 50% protein and provide one third of all dietary protein nitrogen (Graham and Vance, 2003). Thus legumes, as a complement to cereals, make one of the best solutions to protein-calorie malnutrition, particularly in developing countries. Legumes constitute the main component of traditional dishes throughout the world, where maize and beans, rice and lentils, barley and peas, wheat and chickpeas are eaten together. The carbon energy supply that is needed upon germination is stored in grain legume seeds either in the form of oil (soybean, groundnut) or as starch (common bean, pea, faba bean, lentil, chickpea, cowpea, mung bean). In addition, these are also an important source of the 15 essential minerals required by man (Wang et al., 2003), of complex carbohydrates, of soluble fibres and of other compounds that are alternatively considered anti-nutritional or health-promoting: trypsin inhibitors, tannins, phytate, saponins and oligosaccharides have recently been associated with various health benefits, such as protective effects against cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes (Champ, 2002; Clemente et al., 2009). Since the main challenge for grain legumes in human nutrition is linked to their role as a source of protein, the genetic improvement made for protein content, bioavailability and nutritional quality in food legume crops is discussed in…

Item Type: Book Chapter
Publisher: CABI
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