Recently, new nutritional and health insights have emerged which have created the need for development of foods and beverages with health benefits, authenticated by scientific evidence. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) have recognized the importance of these foods in promoting health and nutrition especially in developing countries. The common dry bean Phaseolus vulgaris, is the most important food legume for direct consumption in the world. Among the major food crops, it has one of the highest levels of variation in growth habit, seed characteristics such as size, shape and color, maturity, and adaptation to different environments.
In Africa bean is primarily produced in small- scale with few purchased inputs, subjected to biological, edaphic and climatic problems. Beans from this region are low in yield. Beans are nearly a perfect food. They are nutritionally rich, good source of protein, folic acid, dietary fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Further, when beans are part of the normal diet, the use of maize and rice proteins increases since the amino acids are complementary. Beans are also the best non-meat source of iron.
Like other pulses, common beans contain several anti-nutritional factors that may limit their consumption and nutritive utilization of their protein. Beans contain many bioactive substances that play a role in vivo, including protein digestibility enzyme inhibitors, other types of enzyme inhibitors and fermentable – non digestible oligosaccharides. These anti-nutritional factors can be eliminated or reduced by appropriate cooking or with simple technologies such as fermentation of bean flour for the case of making snacks.
In Kenya consumers, especially those from the middle and upper socio-economic classes have become increasingly aware of the health benefits derived from consumption of health promoting specialized food found in the market such snacks. There is considerable willingness to pay for additional safety of food products, and increasing attention towards the overall safety of consumption patterns and health status.
There is currently a diversity of locally manufactured snacks, which sell on display counters of many supermarkets and retail shops, such as popcorns, baked products, chocolate bars, crisps just to mention but a few. The consumption rates of these snacks are high and the consumption patterns reports that the product is widely consumed by children and youths. There is however a small percentage of adults who consume snacks and this is limited to families in the urban areas. When comparison is done based on gender, ladies consumes more of the snacks than men.
Most of the widely processed snacks in Kenya are based on cereals such as maize and tubers such as potatoes. A good example of such snacks is the potato crisps which are widely produced and processed by local traders and industries. However, these snacks are rich in carbohydrates therefore there arises a need to come up with a snack rich in proteins such as the bean chips snack.