Ethanol Co-Product Has Human Nutrition Benefits

Cindy Zimmerman

The ethanol co-product known as DDGs or dried distillers grain is mostly used as livestock feed, but a food grade version could help improve human nutrition.

South Dakota State University research shows a traditional Asian flatbread called chapathi (or chapati) gets a big boost in protein and fiber when fortified with food-grade distillers grains.

SDSU food scientist Padu Krishnan said it is one example of the ways DDGS could help improve human nutrition worldwide – and provide a new market for the ethanol co-product. Krishnan, a cereal chemist, has been studying and writing about the possibility of using DDGS in human diets since the early 1990s. Especially now with new state-of-the-art ethanol plants coming online in recent years, Krishnan said, the ethanol industry is well poised to make food-grade DDGS.

In lab studies, Krishnan and his colleagues found that using DDGS to make up 10 percent of the dough in chapathi, an Asian whole wheat unleavened bread eaten in South Asia and East Africa, boosted the fiber from 2.9 percent to 7.8 percent, while using 20 percent DDGS in the dough increased the fiber to 10.3 percent. Protein content also increased by using DDGS in the dough, up to 15.3 percent by adding 20 percent to the dough.

DDGS is ideal for including in human diets because it contains 40 percent dietary fiber and nearly 37 percent protein.

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