Andean grains: Nordic perspective of food research and development
Jose Martin Ramos-Diaz1
1Department of Food and Environmental Sciences, P.O. Box 27 (Agnes Sjöberginkatu 2), FI-00014
University of Helsinki, Finland.
Phone number: +358451604898
The potential of Andean grains as food for the future has been recognized by scientists, governmental agencies and international organizations such as FAO. One of the best-known characteristics of Andean grains such as quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) is their high-quality protein, comparable to that of animal origin.
Upon cultivation, plants can be very resilient to draught, low temperatures, high salinity of soils and fungal infections thereby increasing their adaptability to foreign cultivation areas (outside the Andean Plateau). Despite this, the recent popularity of Andean grains in Nordic countries responds to a hype for gluten-free products that should also satisfy consumers’ nutritional needs and expectations. Thus, Andean grains are formidable candidates for food development in Nordic countries
but there are still major challenges regarding their sustainability
Andean grains are mostly imported from South America (Peru and Bolivia) and this increases the carbon footprint associated to their util ization. At University of Helsinki, primary focus was given to: (i) the mechanical, physicochemical and sensory properties of extruded snacks (cereal breakfast) and confectionary products (liquorice) following the incorporation of three Andean grains: quinoa, amaranth (Amarathus caudatus) and kañiwa (Chenopodium pallidicaule), (ii) the study of
protein oxidation in oil-in-water emulsions obtained from quinoa and amaranth proteins, (iii)characterization of starch granules from individual cultivars of quinoa and kañiwa, (iv) screening of mycotoxins in cultivars of quinoa and kañiwa harvested in South America and Northern Europe between 2015 and 2017. In conclusion, studies have gone beyond whole-grain food development, into the fractionation of grain components (from individual cultivars) in order to assess their potential as novel ingredients.