Modification of plant proteins for improved functionality: A review

Felix U. Akharume, Rotimi E. Aluko, Akinbode A. Adedeji

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

207 Scopus citations


The market trend towards plant-based protein has seen a significant increase in the last decade. This trend has been projected to continue in the coming years because of the strong factors of sustainability and less environmental impact associated with the production of plant-based protein compared to animal, aside from other beneficial health claims and changes in consumers' dietary lifestyles. In order to meet market demand, there is a need to have plant-based protein ingredients that rival or have improved quality and functionality compared to the traditional animal protein ingredients they may replace. In this review article, we present a detailed and concise summary of the functionality challenges of some plant protein ingredients with associated physical, chemical, and biological processing techniques (traditional and emerging technologies) that have been attempted to enhance them. We cataloged the differences between several studies that seek to address the functionality challenges of selected plant-based protein ingredients without overtly commenting on a general technique that addresses the functionality of all plant-based protein ingredients. Additionally, we elucidated the chemistry behind some of these processing techniques and how they modify the protein structure for improved functionality. Although, many food industries are shifting away from chemical modification of proteins because of the demand for clean label product and the challenge of toxicity associated with scale-up of this technique, so physical and biological techniques are widely being adopted to produce a functional ingredient such as texturized vegetable proteins, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, clean label protein concentrates, de-flavored protein isolates, protein flour, and grits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-224
Number of pages27
JournalComprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station (KAES), and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), U.S. Department of Agriculture, Hatch‐Multistate project #1007893.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the?Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station?(KAES), and the?National Institute of Food and Agriculture?(NIFA), U.S. Department of Agriculture, Hatch-Multistate project #1007893.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Institute of Food Technologists®


  • biological modification
  • functional properties
  • physicochemical modification
  • plant-based protein
  • processing techniques

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science


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