Traditionally used in animal feed, canola meal can now offer nutritional benefits for humans, too. A process has been patented to create canola protein isolates with excellent nutritional and functional characteristics for food products. Like soy protein, canola protein is no longer just for animals.
Two canola protein isolates received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status for their use in human foods. These proteins have tremendous functionality in food and beverage applications. While ingredients like milk, soy and eggs have useful proteins, they do not remain functional in certain foods and drinks the way canola proteins do.
One type of canola protein can be incorporated into highly acidic beverages like sodas, sports drinks and fruit juices to add protein. Soy, milk and other proteins dissipate in acidic beverages, but canola protein maintains its characteristics in such products. Another type of canola protein is ideal as an emulsifier for gelling and binding various food products. It can substitute for ingredients like eggs and milk in everything from chocolate pudding to cookies, cakes and mayonnaise. This is especially useful for vegan and vegetarian markets.
Foods containing canola protein are expected to hit grocery shelves in 2014. For more on recent developments, see the November-December 2012 issue of U.S. Canola Digest.