Natural Fermentation of Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) Flour Improves the Nutritive Utilization of Indispensable Amino Acids and Phosphorus by Growing Rats
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AuthorKapravelou, Garyfallia; Martínez Martínez, Rosario; Martino, Jole; Porres Foulquie, Jesús María; Fernández-Fígares Ibáñez, Ignacio
Vigna unguiculataFermentationDigestibilityAmino acidsMineral bioavailabilityRats
Kapravelou, G.; Martínez, R.; Martino, J.; Porres, J.M.; Fernández-Fígares, I. Natural Fermentation of Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) Flour Improves the Nutritive Utilization of Indispensable Amino Acids and Phosphorus by Growing Rats. Nutrients 2020, 12, 2186. [doi:10.3390/nu12082186]
SponsorshipSpanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities; European Union (EU) RTC-2017-6540-1 RTI2018-100934-B-I00
Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) is among the most cultivated legumes, with interesting agronomic and environmental properties, and great potential as a nutritious food. The nutritional value of cowpea can be improved by technological processing. In this study, we showed that natural fermentation improved bioavailability of protein, amino acids, and dietary essential minerals from cowpea in growing rats, thus strengthening its potential value as functional food or food supplement. Forty Wistar albino rats (48 ± 1.8 g), were fed one of four experimental diets (n = 10 rats per diet): casein, raw cowpea, fermented cowpea or fermented and autoclaved cowpea. Despite lower growth indices of raw and fermented cowpea protein (PER, FTI) than casein, fermentation enhanced apparent digestibility of arginine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, and valine, and true digestibility of essential amino acids, except for tyrosine and valine, compared to raw cowpea. On the other hand, autoclaving of fermented cowpea flour decreased apparent, as did true digestibility of sulfur amino acids. Regarding the nutritive utilization of dietary essential minerals, Vigna unguiculata was a good source of available P, Mg, and K, while fermentation significantly improved the availability of P. Overall, cowpea was a good source of digestible essential amino acids and minerals and fermentation significantly improved its nutritional value that was not further enhanced by autoclaving.