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Innovative pulse and cereal-based food fermentations for human health and sustainable diets

Project description

Advancing plant-based food fermentation technology for healthy diets

Food fermentation is a natural process in which food components are converted by microbial growth of desired yeast and bacteria and enzymes. It is an ancient technique purported to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Food and health experts on the EU-funded HealthFerm project will advance fermentation technology and enable the transition from traditional to sustainable grain-based fermented foods. These will be rich in protein and designed to offer maximum health benefits to EU consumers. For optimal results, they will unravel the relationship between fermentation, the gut microbiome, grain-based foods and health. Moreover, they will identify and employ suitable microorganisms in the development of novel grain-based food sources and assess their impact on gut health.


Food fermentation has been used for millennia, but our knowledge on the impact of fermented foods on human health and the possible role of gut microbiota in it is limited. Microbial consortia and fermentation processes are, hence, not designed for optimal health outcomes. At the same time, fermentation technology represents a major opportunity to increase incorporation of plant-based proteins in diets.
The multi-actor consortium HealthFerm brings together first-class researchers, food companies and dissemination partners to enable the transition from traditional to sustainable grain-based fermented foods and diets that deliver health benefits to consumers by design.
This will be achieved by (1) disentangling the interaction between food fermentation microbiomes, grain-based foods and the human gut microbiome and health and (2) using microbial resources and fermentation technology to develop healthy pulse and cereal-based food and diets that cater to the desires and needs of EU citizens.
Drawing from a community science approach, HealthFerm will identify micro-organisms and metabolic pathways that may result in desired nutritional and health effects. The impact of microbial fermentation on raw materials will be examined at the molecular level. Fermentation technology will be used in the production of grain-based liquid and (semi-)solid foods. The impact of these foods on human health and the gut microbiome will be assessed in a number of intervention trials. Consumer acceptance of fermented foods, their technologies and their role in the transition towards a more sustainable healthy diet will be studied in different social contexts. Finally, extensive ecosystem building and training activities will contribute to HealthFerm’s strong participatory approach.
Outcomes will allow increased use of grain-based materials in foods, contributing to an environment-friendly food system and a strong EU food industry, thus aligning with the EU Green Deal priorities and UN SDGs.



Net EU contribution
€ 1 977 250,00
Oude markt 13
3000 Leuven

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Vlaams Gewest Prov. Vlaams-Brabant Arr. Leuven
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Participants (20)

Partners (2)