New ideas for making peanuts edible for allergic consumers

Polyphenolic phytochemicals, found in certain plants extracts, have a high affinity to bind with proteins and form soluble and insoluble complexes. A recent study investigated the allergenicity of polyphenol-fortified peanut matrices prepared by complexing various polyphenol-rich plant juices and extracts with peanut flour.

The researchers immersed peanut flour in solutions containing juices or extracts from polyphenol-rich foods such as elderberry, blackcurrant, cranberry, green tea, cinnamon, grapes and chokeberry. These samples were freeze-dried before being analysed to determine how the polyphenols had bound the peanut proteins. The largest changes were observed in the combination between the peanut flour and cranberry juice.

Part of the project saw the researchers feed the cranberry-peanut flour complex to mice that had been sensitized to peanuts. These mice exhibited a 75% lower IgE binding and degranulation capacity, likely due to changes in the secondary structure of the peanut protein. The authors suggest that the chemical complex formed with cranberry made the peanut flour more hypoallergenic such that it may have a potential application for oral immunotherapy.

Reference: Plundrich et al. 2014. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, DOI: 10.1021/jf405773b