From left to right: Perla Gómez Di Marco, Elena Collado and Francisco Artés Hernández.

Beans or peas native to the Region of Murcia converted into ‘superfoods’ that can be bought in supermarkets ready to eat and with a special container to cook in the microwave in a jiffy. These are some of the new foods developed by researchers at the Institute of Plant Biotechnology of the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT), which with other lesser-known species such as cowpea, complete an innovative range to enhance the consumption of proteins of vegetable origin.

“Europe needs to consume more local protein to avoid the extinction of species that are falling into oblivion”, clarifies IBV researcher Perla Gómez Di Marco. Currently “the countries of the Union import more protein than oil,” he adds.

To promote the production and consumption of native species, researchers from the School of Agronomists and the IBV have developed the European project Enhancing of legumes growing in Europe through sustainable cropping for protein supply for food and feed (EUROLEGUME, No. 613,781), which has counted with a financing of XX euros, and has been developed in the last four years.

The biologist Elena Collado Marín has carried out her doctoral thesis ‘Development of innovative and high nutritional value foods from native legume species’ at the UPCT within the framework of this European project. During her work she has obtained fourth and fifth range foods that did not exist until now, such as beans, peas and cowpea. This last legume, quite common in Brazil and in several African countries, is similar to a bean and very rich in protein. It also has the advantage that it needs little water, since it is highly resistant to water stress.

The quality achieved by Elena Collado in these new foods is very high and consistent. They have a refrigerated commercial life of 15 days, thanks to the use of sustainable technologies that guarantee the maintenance of the organoleptic and nutritional properties. The good preserved taste, its attractive appearance, and its nutritional value favor its consumption, especially due to the ease of preparation, points out the professor of Food Technology at the UPCT, Francisco Artés Hernández, co-director of the doctoral thesis. “Just a touch of the microwave and add a little oil and, ready to eat,” he adds.

Elena Collado (Murcia, 1997), got a scholarship in the G’s-UPCT chair (time ago). She took the master’s degree TAIDA (Advanced Technologies in Agricultural and Food Research and Development) at the UPCT. Currently, the new doctor works in the company (Fruca).

This doctoral thesis has already generated four publications in high-impact scientific journals and dozens of popular articles and presentations at international Scientific Congresses.

The experiments and trials have been carried out during the last four years in the laboratories of the Institute of Plant Biotechnology, with crops from the Tomás Ferro farm and from producers from Campo de Cartagena.

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