Dr. Priya Kathirvel

Part-Time Professor, Applied Human Nutrition

Priya profile_edit

With her interest in food science and research on food chemistry and analysis, Dr. Priya Kathirvel, a professor in the department of Applied Human Nutrition, wants to ensure Canadian consumers can make healthier choices at the grocery store.

Pursuing her interest in creating new gluten-free and vegan products, Dr. Kathirvel has investigated using pulses to make foods gluten free by testing ways to ensure appealing flavour, taste, and texture remain while creating snack foods without traditional flour.

“Not all flours are created equal, and we would like to take that research to the next level with grant-funded studies,” said Dr. Kathirvel.

As well as making products with pulses, Dr. Kathirvel and her students are testing the effect of particle size of pulses such as lentil when made into flour, and they will soon start doing clinical trials. Initial findings show that larger particle sizes release glucose more slowly compared with pulse flour made from fine particles; this may have an impact on food product development.

Priya and student_edit

Dr. Kathirvel and her students also worked on a gluten-free beverage for a local company that makes only gluten-free products, and for another partner, they created gluten-free pastry mixes and pie shells.

“Producers need to find ways to adapt recipes for their vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free customers, and that’s where we come in,” said Dr. Kathirvel.

Other research focuses on lowering the sugar content in dairy products such as chocolate milk and yogurt, and the introduction of unfamiliar foods such as seaweed to the Nova Scotia consumer market. “It’s popular in Japan, but it’s not popular here even though we produce a lot,” said Dr. Kathirvel.

After completing her PhD in 2009, Dr. Kathirvel has worked as a scientist at DSM, formerly Ocean Nutrition Canada, conducting research and development in their analytical division. She has been teaching nutrition and food product development courses at Mount Saint Vincent University, first as a guest lecturer and now as a part-time faculty member. She has received funding from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Nova Scotia Business Inc. and National Research Council – Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC – IRAP).

Visit Dr. Kathirvel’s Faculty Profile