HALLE, GERMANY — Upcycled rapeseed may present new opportunities for plant-based protein, according to a study from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU).

Nutrition scientists examined the beneficial impact of rapeseed on human metabolism and found it has comparable benefits as soy protein due to a similar composition of amino acids. In some cases, rapeseed outperformed soy.

“Soy is generally considered the best source of plant protein as it contains a particularly beneficial composition of amino acids,” said Gabriele Stangl, an agricultural and nutritional sciences professor at MLU.

Along with a similar composition of amino acids, rapeseed contains phytochemicals, or chemical compounds produced by plants that may offer additional health benefits. Another advantage over soy is that rapeseed protein can be upcycled from the byproduct of rapeseed oil production and used as an ingredient in new food products. The byproduct currently is used exclusively for animal feed, Ms. Stangl said.

“So far, only a few data on the effect of rapeseed protein intake in humans had been available,” she added.

Participants in the study were asked to eat a specifically prepared meal on three separate days: Noodles with tomato sauce that either contained no additional protein or was enriched with soy or rapeseed protein. After the meal, blood regularly was drawn over a six-hour period.

“The rapeseed protein induced comparable effects on metabolic parameters and cardiovascular risk factors as soy protein,” said Christin Volk, a nutritionist at MLU. “Rapeseed even produced a slightly more beneficial insulin response in the body. (It) appears to be a valuable alternative to soy in the human diet.”

Participants also reported a longer feeling of satiety after eating the rapeseed protein.

While the nutritional benefits of rapeseed protein may be the same or better than soy protein, taste is likely one drawback.

“Rapeseed protein, in contrast to soy protein, has a mustard flavor,” Ms. Volk said. “Therefore, rapeseed is more suitable for the production of savory foods rather than sweet foods.”