Scientists develop a drinkable, peanut-based dietary supplement for older adults

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock
To benefit older adults who are at a high risk of protein-energy malnutrition, scientists from the University of Georgia developed a peanut-based beverage supplement and compared its nutritional and microbiological qualities with commercial products.

“We formulated and developed a nutritious beverage from peanuts, flaxseed, and brown rice flour,”​ the researchers wrote in their study, published in the Journal of Food Science​.

“The nutritional components of the beverage could be beneficial to older adults by supplying pre-digested proteins and carbohydrates in assisting to improve the health status of older adults and especially prevent and control protein-energy malnutrition,” ​they added.

They argued that such a beverage is important to develop, especially as older adults make up a significant part of the world’s populace and many developing countries age, because protein-energy malnutrition among a geriatric population “must be paramount to public health interest.”

Selecting the ingredients

According to the researchers, peanuts are “one of the single food products, rich in nutrients especially unsaturated fats and considerable amount of both dispensable and indispensable amino acids.”

The small, affordable legume’s benefits are well attested, and it’s the main ingredient in Plumpy Nut, which entities such as the WHO and UNICEF use to aid malnourished populations​ in distressed areas of the world. This study in particular was funded by the United States Agency for International Development through the Peanut Collaborative Research Program.

“Our choice of ingredients was essential because we wanted to formulate a product from ingredients that are available worldwide and could be afforded by people with low economic power,” ​they wrote.

Peanut flours with 28% or 12% fat content were donated by the Golden Peanut Company in Alpharetta, GA. The rest of the ingredients, rice flour, flaxseed meal, and sesame flour, came from Bob’s Red Mill.

A computer-generated formulation

Researchers used the Creative Formulation Concepts, CFC4-SD software to produce formulations using specified nutritional composition at the least cost from a list of specified ingredients.

The beverage was cooked into gruel and then passed through several hydrolysis processes using a shaking bath. Multiple enzymes were added to the mixture for various functions, from reducing the viscosity of the mixture to removing bitterness from protein digests.

The researchers then conducted a comparison of nutritional and microbiological qualities between the beverage they developed and 10 commercial nutritional beverages marketed for older adults.

“Nutritional estimates were exclusively based on estimates given by the software using a serving size of 8 fl oz. Microbiological quality was analyzed by enumerating total aerobic bacteria on tryptic soy agar,”​ they wrote.

How the peanut drink placed

“Our formulation had the lowest estimated protein content of 8.6 g/serving compared to a range of 9 to 25 g/serving in the commercial products,”​ the researchers found. “However, the protein content is no indication of poor protein quality because peanut milk and peanut milk based products are known to be highly nutritious.”

The peanut beverage also had more calories from fat compared to the commercial products, but the researchers emphasized that their formulation has low sodium content and cholesterol level.

“Compared to the commercial formulations used in the study, the sodium of our product is 10 times less (2.2 mg/serving) and it has no cholesterol. The potassium content of our product was 346 mg/serving, compared to average potassium contents of 50 to 840 mg/serving in the commercial products,”​ they wrote.

Their formulation also excelled in its fiber content, having 4.5 g per serving compared to four other commercial brands that contained only 3 g (the rest had no fiber).

The beverages mineral and vitamin content, however, was very low compared to the commercial products, as no vitamin or mineral supplementary mixture was used in the product.

“In this preliminary project, we formulated and processed a predigested healthy beverage from low cost food ingredients,”​ they concluded. “The complete nutritional composition especially, the amino acid profile, allergenicity, physiochemical and sensory properties of our formulation would be further developed into a unique beverage which could be consumed especially, by older adults to maintain their protein balance and improve their overall health status.”

Source: ​Journal of Food Science
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.13298
Development of a Drinkable, Peanut-Based Dietary Supplement and Comparison of Its Nutritional and Microbiological Qualities with Commercial Products.
Authors: Klu Y.A., Phillips R.D., Chen J.

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