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By Christine Werner, PhD, PA-C, RD
The nutritional profile and functional properties of soy and its constituents (oil, protein, fiber) influence a surprising number of food products in the market today.1 Soy as an ingredient in foods adds nutrition like protein, healthy polyunsaturated fat, phytonutrients and dietary fiber.
The health benefits of soy have been studied extensively. Various soy products are viewed as health promoting, and may play a role in weight loss, improving glucose tolerance, lowering bad cholesterol, and possibly reducing risk of breast, prostate and colon cancers.1
Soy protein is a sustainable protein when incorporated into various food products. It is a high-quality protein containing all of the essential amino acids.2 Soy protein added to cereals, protein bars, and bakery goods increase both the quantity and quality of the protein in these products. One reason the food industry uses soy protein is because it has the ability to gel after heating. This attribute allows the food product to retain moisture, flavor, aroma and its shape, and hold other food ingredients within the food product.
Types of Soy Protein Additives
Textured soy products, which are also called “textured soy protein” (TSP) or “textured vegetable protein” (TVP) are made from soy flour, soy concentrate or soy protein isolate.1,3 TVPs are added to many types of fibrous foods and ground meat products to increase protein content and enhance flavor. TVPs are most commonly used as meat extenders, available in granules, flakes, or chunk style products. A pound of TVP approximates roughly 3 lbs. of ground beef, from a protein perspective.4 When re-hydrated, 1 cup of TVP produces around 2 cups of TVP.4
Soy flour, which is approximately 50% protein, is commonly used to replace non-fat dry milk or whole milk solids in food processing.1 Soy flour improves the browning result of baked and cereal products without compromising nutrient or protein content.2
Soy protein concentrates and isolates are approximately 65% and 90% protein, respectively, making these products very low in carbohydrates and fat.1,3 Soy protein isolates are incorporated into a number of popular items, such as power/cereal bars, protein shakes and liquid nutritional meals to increase protein content.
Soy protein can also be found in a variety of food products, including dairy products, frozen meals and desserts, cereal/cake/snack products, and meat entrees, to name a few.
For more information about a wide variety of soyfood products, see the Soyfoods Guide, available on line at The Soy Connection website: www.soyconnection.com
1. Endres JG. Soy Protein Products: Characteristics, Nutritional Aspects, and Utilization. 2001, AOCS Press and the Soy Protein Council.
2. Riaz MN. Soy Protein Prevalent In Food Products, Uses. SoyConnection, 2016;24(4):5-6.
3. Singh P, Kumar R, Sabapathy SN, Bawa AS. Functional and Edible Uses of Soy Protein Products. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. 2008;7:14-28.
4. Soy Fact Sheets. The American Diabetes Association/The American Dietetic Association. 2002.
Christine Werner, PhD, PA-C, RD, is a professor at Saint Louis University in the department of Physician Assistant Education where she teaches nutrition, cardiology and evidence-based medicine. Werner’s areas of research interest include evidence-based clinical practice in nutrition and medical therapy.
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