Protein quality and digestibility of whole wheat as affected by drum-drying and single screw extrusion processing

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Virginia Tech

The objective of this study was to examine the effects of two thermal processes, drum-drying and thermoplastic extrusion, on protein quality and digestibility of whole wheat.

Coker 916 whole wheat flour was made into a simulated whole wheat spaghetti by extrusion cooking (single screw, 50 psi, 93°C) and a flaked product by drum-drying (152°C). Protein Efficiency Ratios (PER) of the original whole wheat kernels and the two processed wheat products were determined. The apparent digestibility of the four diets was determined from Kjeldahl nitrogen analysis of feces. Amino acid composition, available lysine analysis, colorimetry (Hunter L, a, b color values), and Differential Scanning Calorimetry were also conducted to investigate the effects of thermal processing on protein quality.

Both thermal processes significantly increased protein digestibility while PER’s of the drum dried flakes (1.66) and unprocessed whole wheat (1.59) were significantly greater than the extruded product (1.42) Thermal processing also resulted in substantial reductions in lysine (>10%) and several other essential amino acids. Hunter L, a, b values indicated that the drum-dried flakes were lightest in color, followed by the unprocessed whole wheat and the extruded product. The observed decrease in lysine and PER of the extruded product may be due in part to Maillard Browning, as indicated by Hunter color values. It appears that total lysine or Hunter L color values may be reasonable predictors of protein quality of processed whole wheat. DSC results suggest that starch was fully gelatinized during drum-drying of the whole wheat but on partially gelatinized during extrusion cooking.