Plant Proteins from Legumes

  • Catherine Bennetau-PelisseroEmail author
Living reference work entry
Part of the Reference Series in Phytochemistry book series (RSP)


Legumes are part of the human edible panel since prehistory times but the remains that reached our last centuries were all from a period posterior to fire domestication. In all parts of the world where human civilizations developed, pulses were associated with cereals and the combination of their proteins managed to cover the essential amino-acid requirements of Humans and animals. Legumes gathering more than 19,000 different species, all present high protein content due to specific symbiosis with rhizobia and arbuscular mycorrhizae present in the soils. These associations are thought to originate from first symbiotic events dating from more than 60 million years before present. They allow the plants to fix nitrogen that is used for protein biosynthesis. The nutritional value of actual pulses is generally higher than that of other crops especially since domestication and the genetic selection processes operated by humans. Beside proteins with suitable amino-acid profiles, legumes also contain digestible carbohydrates and some of them also contain fat. In some cases, these fat include polyunsaturated fatty acids that increase further the nutritional value of the corresponding legumes. However, if such valuable plants managed to survive along geological periods, it is because their evolution with their environmental pressure lead them to develop anti-nutritional substances to protect themselves from their predators. Here will be discussed some of these anti-nutritional substances, the so-called tannins, phytic acid, saponins, phytoestrogens, lipoxygenase, hemagglutinin, trypsin inhibitor, as well as allergens. Because all these substances are basically useful for the crops, it is only during processing that they should be removed. Therefore, a special focus is made on traditional versus modern recipes and industrial food processing. Their respective impacts on basic nutritional components (amino-acids, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals) as well as on the anti-nutritional factors listed above are examined. Basically, wet processing which was most frequently developed in the past, associated orf not with fermentation or germination, is also the most efficient in removing all anti-nutritional factors.


Legumes Prehistoric domestication Proteins Amino-acid profiles Anti-nutritional factors Tannins Saponins Phytic Acids Phytoestrogens Oligosaccharids Hemagglutinins Lipoxygenases Tripsin inhibitors Allergens 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department Life Science and HealthUniversity of BordeauxBordeauxFrance
  2. 2.Bordeaux Sciences AgroGradignanFrance

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