Prof Victoria Jideani from the Food Science and Technology Department is the first female inventor at CPUT to register a patent.
In 2012 her innovative efforts paid off when she developed a probiotic yoghurt-like beverage. The probiotic beverage is produced from a vegetable milk product, which Jideani tailor-made from Bambara groundnut, a locally grown legume. Current probiotic yoghurt products are manufactured from cow, goat or soya milk. Widely grown in South Africa and other parts of the continent, the Bambara groundnut is underutilised and sold in its raw form as a health snack. But with Jideani harbouring a passion for underutilised crops, she grabbed the opportunity to turn the Bambara groundnut into something much more than just a health snack. “One day I began to think of ways to add more value to this specific legume that is underutilised,” she says. Jideani spent two years working on the project and her tireless efforts have paid off. This natural probiotic beverage boasts a number of health benefits for consumers. It is cholesterol free, low in fat as well as rich in protein, fibre and antioxidants. It also boasts added probiotics for maintaining good balance and composition of intestinal flora. “The product is suitable for lactose intolerant suffers and yet acceptable to the general market”, she says. Jideani is continuing with her ground breaking research and has registered other patents related to the Bambara groundnut and has also established a research group that is exploring the potential of the Bambara groundnut as a food security crop and nutraceutical that could be utilized in functional food, pharmaceutical industry/medicine. Earlier this year Drs Jane Okafor and Bukola Adedayo, two postdoctoral fellows joined the team and will look at the medicinal potential of the Bambara groundnut and its products (milk and probiotic beverage) as a functional food in health and disease and its relationship to indigenous knowledge systems. Check out the Extra-Ordinary Women Series Here Source: CPUT