Living lab Bruges: Eating plant-based in your golden years is investing in health

Living lab Bruges: Eating plant-based in your golden years is investing in health

Thursday, June 22, 2023

There are several times scientific demonstrated that the older population needs more proteins in their diet. This under others to preserve their muscle mass and quality to pre-emptively respond to malnutrition and sarcopenia. In an innovative pilot study of the Living Lab Bruges, specific components of the hot meal, produced by project partner Ruddersstove, were provided with plant based proteins.

Ruddersstove is in charge of preparing and delivering hot meals to homes and local service centers. After a thorough examination, it was decided to enhance the starch component, ‘mashed potatoes’, with vegetable proteins in these hot meals. Before the mash could be evaluated by the target group, pilot tests were conducted at Ruddersstove to determine how adding the plant protein source affected various aspects of the mash, including (1) taste, (2) color, (3) aroma, (4) consistency, and (5) overall observations. This process helped identify the optimal concentration for both protein content and the factors mentioned earlier. For every 100 grams of a soy-based vegetable protein source, 44.75 grams of protein were provided. The addition of soy-based protein had a significant impact on the taste of the standard mash, but no added value was demonstrated in terms of nutritional claims. Therefore, this addition was not further tested in the continuation of this study.

In a second test the plant-based protein, lupine, was introduced. The test design mirrored the approach used in the first phase. While the addition of lupine had a lesser impact on taste, it significantly affected aroma, texture, and thickness. Given these effects on various components, it was decided not to implement this addition in practice, as it would significantly impact the quality of the meals in a sustainable manner.

This initial experiment aimed to evaluate the feasibility of enhancing Ruddersstove’s meals with existing plant-based protein sources, specifically soy and lupine proteins incorporated into the puree. Previous studies suggested that these sources had the least impact on overall meal quality. Initially, the plan was to introduce enriched mash to the elderly population in two community centers. However, after taste tests involving 20 participants, it was clear that the effect on mash quality was too significant. The enriched mash did not meet the necessary quality standards for distribution to the intended audience. The success rate was considered rather low due to implementation challenges. Nevertheless, it serves as a foundation for further refining current plant-based protein sources.