Functional beverages containing ingredients such as soy, vitamins, minerals, fruits, or vegetables have become popular because they appeal to consumers who are seeking specific health benefits. Examples include sports and performance drinks, energy drinks, ready to drink (RTD) teas, enhanced fruit drinks, and soy beverages. Functional drinks are marketed to promote heart and immune health, support joint health, promote satiety, and boost energy. Consumers “on the go” are looking for both convenience and healthy alternatives to carbonated soft drinks or calorie-laden fruit juices, and soy beverages are an ideal beverage alternative.
Explore this issueAugust/September 2014
Using Soy Protein to Power Healthy Beverages
Extensive research underscores the health benefits of soy, including its role in reducing cardiovascular disease risk as part of a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat, as well as its muscle-building attributes. Soy is an excellent source of amino acid-rich dietary protein with a Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score of 1.0, making it a complete, high-quality protein. What makes soy unique is that it is the only widely available plant protein that is also considered a high-quality protein. Most plant proteins are lacking in one or more of the essential amino acids or have lower digestibility, making them lower in protein quality than soy. Years of clinical research also support the heart health benefits of soy, making it the only protein source with an FDA-approved health claim recognizing those benefits. Soy protein is often used because of its low-fat/low saturated fat/zero cholesterol profile and has long been known for its ability to improve blood cholesterol levels.
To maintain quality for soy-based functional beverages, food developers are creating beverage products using dry-blended soy protein isolate—an ingredient that optimizes physical performance, delivers healthy nutrition, and, most importantly, has a pleasing taste. Soy beverages, such as protein drinks and yogurt smoothies, are growing in popularity. Many of these are high-quality, healthy beverages positioned as nutritional options with sensory and taste experiences in their own right.
Demand for soy-based beverages providing both refreshment and a healthy lifestyle option has led to the development of a new generation of innovative soy ingredients. Whereas traditional soy isolates can have flavor and dispersion issues in certain applications, new agglomerated soy isolates (highly digestible sources of amino acids) offer improved functionality and nutritional profiles. Agglomerated soy isolates contain more than 90 percent protein, enabling the development of products to meet the FDA and Joint Health Claims Initiative health claims. Furthermore, their gelation, emulsification and viscosity-building properties are particularly useful in the creation of high-protein, dairy-like products.