Professor, Canada Research Chair University of Alberta
Oilseeds are a major sector of the Canadian agri-food industry. Canola Oils are healthy with low saturated fatty acids, and substantial amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids. After oil extraction, the meals are good source of vegetable proteins (30-50%) with 11S salt-soluble globulin and 2S water-soluble albumin as the major components. 11S is a hexameric protein where each subunit contains acidic/α (30 kDa) and basic/β (20 kDa) polypeptides linked by disulfide bonds, whereas 2S is composed of two polypeptide chains with molecular weights of 9 and 4 kDa that are held together mainly by disulfide bonds. These proteins have good nutritive value, solubility and functionality such as emulsifying and gelling properties. Traditionally, canola seeds are processed by solvent extraction with the focus primarily on oil yield. The high temperature during the desolventization-toasting process applied in the oil extraction damages the protein structures, leading to reduced solubility, functionality and unfavorable flavor and color. Currently the majority of the meals are used as animal feed. This presentation introduces the challenges and opportunities associated with value-added processing of canola proteins. Recent progress of enzyme assisted protein extraction from canola meals and their gelling property development will be highlighted. This generated knowledge has allowed preparation of canola protein gels with modulated mechanical properties, thus provided opportunities for canola protein to be used as new gelling reagent in both food and non-food applications.