Creme of the Crop

January 18, 2005
Daniel Schatzman

Soy foods have come a long way since the early days of tofu and meat substitutes. In the past few years, food technologists have become adept at devising new applications for soy and have expanded the array of choices available to consumers.

Soy foods have come a long way since the early days of tofu and meat substitutes. In the past few years, food technologists have become adept at devising new applications for soy and have expanded the array of choices available to consumers.

 

Although soy may be best known for its health benefits, it also has several components that aid in the manufacture of foods. Soy is therefore a surprisingly versatile ingredient because it can make products healthier while enhancing their sensory properties. This is particularly the case when it comes to soy desserts.

JUST DESSERTS

One of the newest soy ingredients for baked goods and other dessert applications is Sunrich’s (Hope, MN) Soy Supreme Kreme, a high-fat soy milk powder. Manufacturers can use the bland-tasting powder as a replacement for soybean oil. The ingredient can also deliver 6.25 g of soy protein per serving-enough to qualify for FDA’s (Rockville, MD) cardiovascular health claim. Sunrich manufactures the shelf-stable powder using a proprietary processing technique with whole soybeans, rather than hexane-extracted soy oil. According to Allan Routh, president of Sunrich’s grains and soy products group, whole soybeans supply more of soy’s beneficial components than highly processed soybeans.

“In the past, companies have had to rely on less-nutrient-rich, fractionalized soy for high-fat applications,” Routh says. “However, Sunrich’s new Soy Supreme Kreme offers companies an ingredient with the nutrition and taste necessary to create a successful product. Sunrich is committed to using only whole soybeans in our ingredients and to processing them as minimally as possible.”

Prostate Study Examines Effects of Isoflavones

 

According to a clinical trial published in the May 2000 issue of the journal Prostate, consumption of soy isoflavones for 12 weeks lowered or maintained serum free testosterone and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in men with early-stage prostate cancer.

In the study, which was conducted at the H. Lee Moffett Cancer Center & Research Institute at the University of South Florida College of Medicine (Tampa, FL), about 60 patients received either 60 mg of isoflavone supplements or a placebo for 12 weeks. In 61% of the patients who received isoflavones, serum free testosterone decreased or showed no change, compared with 33% in the placebo group. In addition, serum total PSA decreased or was unchanged in 69% of the subjects in the treatment group, compared with 55% in the placebo group.

Lead researcher Nagi Kumar, PhD, director of the Cancer Center’s Department of Nutrition, notes that steroid hormones are known promoters of prostate cancer and PSA is a surrogate marker of the disease.

“From the available population studies and animal, laboratory, and clinical trials, it is evident that isoflavones modulate steroid hormones and provide a neutralizing effect on synergistic steroid hormone levels,” Kumar says. “As prostate cancer is a hormone-sensitive cancer, this may be critical to reduce risk and progression of the cancer.”

However, Kumar adds that many factors, such as the form, dose, timing, and duration of exposure to the isoflavones, can affect their activity. Kumar also says more long-term studies are needed to observe the long-term effects of isoflavones.

“As these substances will be used over a long period of time to prevent disease, it is important for us to determine the long-term safety of varying doses of isoflavones in populations at high and low risk for prostate cancer,” she says. “Until then, it is safe to mimic the diet of Asian populations by increasing fruit and vegetable intake, reducing dietary fat, increasing physical activity, and introducing soy products, especially fermented soy products that are better absorbed, such as tofu and miso, into the diet.”

Prostate cancer is a disease of long latency, Kumar adds, noting that if men ate soy and other isoflavone-rich products like flaxseed throughout their lifetimes like Asian men do, they might be able to lower their risk of disease.

“From the current population studies, Asian men who consume isoflavones all their lives seldom suffer from clinically evident prostate cancer,” Kumar says. “However, autopsies have revealed that they may have early stages of this disease at death. In the Western population, men are diagnosed more often and have clinically evident disease. In Asia, men die with prostate cancer. In the Western population, men die from prostate cancer.”

 

“At about 50% fat and 30% protein, it works nicely in soy milk, hot chocolate mixes, frozen desserts, and anything that needs fat or oil content for richness,” says Bill Fenske, Sunrich’s vice president of technical services. Fenske notes that manufacturers have already put the ingredient into hot drink mixes, puddings, yogurts, and frostings. “The response has been really good,” Fenske adds. “People are really happy with the flavor and how it functions.”

STRIKING OIL

Another soy ingredient that can help improve the taste and texture of baked goods and desserts is oil. Many food manufacturers have begun to consider reformulating their products, as consumers become more wary of items with saturated and trans fat. Several new soy-derived oils can deliver the functional benefits of conventional oil without all of its harmful characteristics.

ADM (Decatur, IL), for instance, plans to roll out its Enova cooking oil nationwide in 2005. Enova has high concentrations of diacylglycerol, which is metabolized more efficiently than other types of oil and is burned as energy rather than stored as fat, according to ADM.

Moreover, in September, ADM received the Frost & Sullivan Product Leadership Award in the field of edible oils and fats for its NovaLipid family of low–trans fat and trans fat–free oils.

ADM produces NovaLipid fats from fully hydrogenated soybean oil that has been interesterified with regular soybean oil. The process results in an oil with normal melting and shortening properties but without the same trans fat content. In June, FDA notified ADM that interesterified fats that contain more than 20% stearate can be labeled as interesterified soybean oil instead of hydrogenated oil, according to the company.

“As the nutrition and regulatory communities gain recognition of the nutritional neutrality of high-stearic fats, we believe the NovaLipid line will be the trans fat–replacement solution of the future,” explained Graham Keene, ADM’s vice president of corporate marketing.

TWO EXAMPLES

Two examples of successful dessert products made using soy ingredients are White Wave’s (Boulder, CO) Silk Chocolate and Turtle Mountain’s (Eugene, OR) Soy Delicious frozen desserts. Both items have benefited from recent improvements in manufacturing and flavor technology, and both are now giving their conventional competition a run for its money.

Boca and ADM Partnership Spotlights NutriSoy

 

ADM’s (Decatur, IL) NutriSoy soy protein will now be featured on packaging for the Boca Foods (Madison, WI) product line.

According to ADM, the two companies will participate in a branding partnership to promote the ingredient and Boca’s meatless products. ADM already runs a consumer ad campaign for NutriSoy and is a sponsor of the American Heart Association’s (Dallas) Heart Walk fundraisers.

“By teaming with Boca, which is already a household name, more consumers can enjoy NutriSoy 100% natural soy protein,” says Graham Keene, ADM’s vice president of corporate marketing. “Both ADM and Boca know that consumers will enjoy the benefits of soy through great-tasting products.”

“Together, in partnership with NutriSoy, we can further raise awareness about the benefits of soy, as well as call out to consumers that Boca products are made with high-quality soy protein such as NutriSoy,” says Boca’s general manager, Kevin Scott.

In June, White Wave announced that its half-gallon Silk Chocolate soy milk-with retail sales of $13 million-was the top-selling beverage in the entire chocolate milk category for the 24-week period ending April 18, according to data from Information Resources Inc. (IRI; Chicago). White Wave estimates that Silk soy milk is found in 97% of grocery stores and in 11% of homes.

“For a better-for-you product to be the best-selling offering in an indulgent category is a truly remarkable feat,” White Wave president and founder Steve Demos said at the time.

White Wave makes Silk Chocolate, which has a creamy texture, using real Dutch-process cocoa. Each 8-oz serving contains 5 g of soy protein, along with 30% of the recommended daily allowance of calcium. The drink is also lower in sugar than conventional chocolate milk.

According to Demos, the IRI data demonstrated that “if you make a good-for-you product taste great, people will buy it.”

Similarly, Turtle Mountain’s Soy Delicious line of frozen desserts has also caught up with conventional desserts and has even eclipsed their sales in certain categories. According to data from SPINScan (San Francisco), the company saw its dollar sales grow by 20.6% from 2002 to 2003. During the same time period, sales of sorbet, frozen yogurt, and frozen novelties dropped by 10, 7, and 1%, respectively. In addition, about 46% of the frozen dessert market now consists of nondairy items.

Solae Awaits FDA Decision on New Soy Health Claim

 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA; Rockville, MD) is nearing a decision on whether or not to approve a new cancer health claim for soy products. The new claim, submitted by Solae (Fort Wayne, IN), focuses on the relationship between consumption of soy foods and a reduced risk of certain cancers.

Geri Berdak, Solae’s director of public affairs, says the company feels that the data supporting the claim is compelling.

“Our petition focuses on 58 studies supporting the relationship between the consumption of soy protein–based foods and the reduced risk of developing breast, prostate, and colon cancer,” Berdak says. “The process for compiling the health claim petition included a comprehensive evaluation by Solae of scientific research that investigated soy protein–based foods and the reduced risk of developing certain types of cancer.”

 

Although FDA’s 1999 decision to allow a cardiovascular health claim for soy foods helped spark a sales boom, Berdak says Solae is cautiously optimistic about the possible effect of the new claim.

“We can’t speculate as to how much this claim will impact soy sales,” Berdak says. “However, it is our hope that, if authorized, a health claim found on food labels will enable consumers to more easily locate healthful, better-for-you products. After the heart health claim was approved, the industry developed more than 2000 new products containing soy protein. This, in turn, allowed consumers to more easily choose better-for-you foods.”

 

The company has been branching out and recently launched seven new flavors of its Soy Delicious desserts, which offer 15 mg of isoflavones per serving and contain 37% fewer calories than regular ice cream. One of Turtle Mountain’s newest products is the Carb Escapes line of low-net-carb desserts.

According to John Tucker, vice president of marketing at Turtle Mountain, Carb Escapes contains added inulin along with the natural sweetener erythritol. These ingredients are intended to play both functional and health-promoting roles in the product; inulin is a low-glycemic-index fiber, while erythritol helps replace sugar.

“Healthy carbohydrate replacement is not just about dieting for weight loss,” Tucker explains. “It is about dieting for health and establishing a low-carbohydrate life-style that decreases blood sugar levels.”

As White Wave’s Demos pointed out, consumers are willing to choose healthy products if they don’t have to sacrifice taste. The newest crop of soy ingredients is helping consumers discover that good nutrition and taste are not mutually exclusive.