Legumes - an alternative to cereals?

Pulses, or grain legumes, are high in fibre and starch and have been found to contain twice as much protein as that of any wholegrain cereal. The pseudocereals amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat are genetically unrelated to one another but morphologically resemble true cereals.

This paper discusses the potential use of legumes and pseudocereals as alternatives to traditional wheat flour.


Legumes and pseudocereals are already widely consumed and play an outstanding nutritional role in the human diet. There is increasing interest in their applications in novel foods. They are gluten free and high in protein making them suitable for use as cereal substitutes in many vegetarian and gluten-free products. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals and, when blended with wheat, legumes and pseudocereals can be used to enhance the nutritional content of products and provide amino acids that are lacking in cereals. They also have applications for formulated products, starch extracts, flour, thickening agents, protein concentrates, weaning food, and whole seeds.

At Campden BRI, we've been investigating the potential applications of cereal alternatives - exploring the functional characteristics of the starch in different pseudocereals and pulses to better understand to which applications they might be most suited.

Functional properties

Legumes and pseudocereals have multiple functional properties such as water absorption, swelling, solubility, gelatinisation, pasting, and oil absorption which are all important factors in numerous processing applications. However, the processing of legumes and pseudocereals is very important as they contain substances which inhibit the digestion process, negatively influence the biological utilisation of nutrients, and interfere with metabolic pathways.


We can gain valuable insights into the potential applications of legume and pseudocereal flour by evaluating the starch properties along with polymer interactions, functional characteristics around water binding capability, solubility, viscosity, gelling and foaming properties as well as emulsifying capability.

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