Improving taste remains a priority for grain-based food formulators wanting to incorporate soy ingredients for their healthy attributes. Adding fruit flavors is one option, and processing techniques may lead to better flavor in the soy itself.
Many consumers already know about soy’s nutritional benefits. According to "Consumer Attitudes About Nutrition: Insights Into Nutrition, Health & Soyfoods," a survey sponsored by the United Soybean Board, St. Louis, MO, 85% of respondents in 2007 were aware of soy as a healthy food, which was up from 82% in 2006 and 78% in 2005. The nationwide study involved 1,000 random surveys taken online in February and March.
Efforts continue to convince more consumers to eat soy products for their taste along with their health benefits. For example, a collaborative agreement reached earlier this year between The Solae Co., St. Louis, MO, and Senomyx, Inc., San Diego, CA, will explore ways to improve the taste characteristics of soy proteins. "Consumers refuse to compromise taste for wellness," said Jonathan McIntyre, vice-president of research and development at Solae. "To satisfy consumers, food manufacturers are looking for innovations to improve the taste of healthy products. As a company focused on food ingredient innovation, we’re excited to work with Senomyx to deliver additional innovation in food formulation and taste."
Solae, a joint venture between DuPont and Bunge Ltd., supplies soy protein for food-based products. Senomyx focuses on using proprietary taste receptorbased assays, screening technologies and optimization chemistry to discover and develop new flavors, flavor enhancers and taste modulators for the packaged food and beverage industry.
Under the agreement, Solae will have exclusive worldwide use of flavor ingredients in virtually all categories of foods and beverages that contain added soy protein. Solae will fund the discovery and development of these flavor systems, and Senomyx will be entitled to certain milestone and royalty payments.
How soy is processed may affect its flavor in foods, according to Central Iowa Soy, Jefferson, IA. The company began offering oil-roasted soybeans and soybean nuggets in 2006. "We focus on those commercial customers that want to offer better-tasting products to their own customers and keep the health attributes that soy products have brought to the market place," said Larry Thomsen, general manager of Central Iowa Soy.
The nuggets are roasted using soybean oil made from low-linolenic and low-saturated-fat soybeans from Innovative Growers, Mason City, IA. A third Iowa company, American Natural Soy in Cherokee, manufactures the oil.
Low-linolenic soybean oil does not require partial hydrogenation. It does not have any trans fat, which is known to raise cholesterol levels. According to the USB survey, 65% of Americans would be more likely to purchase products reformulated to eliminate trans fat.
Qualisoy, a collaborative effort among the soybean industry, has played a leading role in the surge of low-linolenic soybean oil use. The amount of the oil that will be produced in 2007 is estimated at 800 million lb, up from 285 million lb in 2006 and 60 million lb in 2005.
Currently available trait-enhanced soybean oils include Advantage LL brand soy oil processed by Cargill; Vistive low-linolenic soy oil produced by ADM, Ag Processing, Cenex Harvest States and Zeeland Farms; Treus brand soybean oil developed in partnership by Bunge and DuPont; and Asoyia Ultra Low-Lin soybean oil. Roasted soy nuts were the focus of Iowa State University research presented at the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo in Chicago, IL, earlier this year. The study involved a sensory evaluation panel (10 members) and a consumer panel (50 members) comparing the effects of soybean cultivar, roasting method and storage time on the flavor and texture attributes of roasted soy nuts.
In the results, oil-roasted soy nuts had higher intensities of nutty, sweet, oily, rancid flavor and rancid aroma descriptors than the dry-roasted soy nuts. Consumer panelists preferred the oil-roasted soy nuts.
FAITH IN FLAVORS
Pharmavite, LLC, Mission Hills, CA, has put its faith in fruit flavors as a way to improve the taste of soy products. The company launched SoyJoy nutrition bars in the four flavors — Apple, Berry, Mango Coconut and Raisin Almond.
"We chose natural flavors that would not only appeal to a wide consumer audience but would also serve as greattasting, nutritious options," said Rebecca Zimmerman, brand manager for SoyJoy. "For example, Apple is always an all-American favorite, and Berry includes the goji berry, which is known for its powerful antioxidant benefits. Mango Coconut is a unique tropical blend that is rich in flavor, and Raisin Almond offers a nutty taste different from the others."
The soy powder in SoyJoy is made with a patented process that does not leave any "beany" flavor, according to Ms. Zimmerman. "With SoyJoy, you predominantly taste the fruit while reaping the nutritious benefits of both the fruit and whole soy," she said.
The bars contain no trans fat, hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, highfructose corn syrup, gluten, artificial flavors or artificial preservatives or colors. Each bar offers 8 g of whole soy.
"With just 130 to 140 Cal each, SoyJoy bars are an ideal option for people who are looking for a nutritious, portioncontrolled snack," said Allegra Burton, a registered dietitian for the SoyJoy brand.
Soy Crisps from Newman’s Own Organics come in four varieties: Cinnamon Sugar, White Cheddar, Lightly Salted and Barbecue. The snack foods are made with organic soy and rice and may be used as a breading for chicken or as a replacement for breadcrumbs in meatballs or meatloaf.
Soy has found a home in many other organic products as well. US sales of organic breads and grains increased more than 19% to $1.36 billion in 2005, according to a 2006 manufacturer survey from the Organic Trade Association, Greenfield, MA. Organic snack foods sales jumped more than 18% to $667 million, and organic packaged/prepared foods sales in 2005 were $1.76 billion, up almost 20% from the previous year.
Soy ingredient suppliers are making more organic soy available.
PACK IN PROTEIN
Protein content plays a role in qualifying soy for a health claim. The Food and Drug Administration in 1999 approved this claim, "Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 g of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease."
Adding ultrasonic pretreatment to soy processing boosts and improves the yield of protein that can be added to foods, said Samir Khanal, an Iowa State University research assistant professor. Tests at ISU involved exposing ground and defatted soy flakes to ultrasonic pretreatments that increased the release of soy protein by 46%. The treatment also broke some of the bonds that tie sugars to the soy proteins, which improves the quality of the proteins.
"Our preliminary economic analysis showed that the proposed technology could generate revenue up to $230 million per year from a typical plant producing 400 million lb of soy protein isolate," a research project summary stated.
SOY FLOUR BENEFITS
To achieve a soy heart healthy claim, formulators would need to replace approximately 20 to 30% of the wheat flour in a product with soy flour, noted Mehmet C. Tulbek, Ph.D., an oilseed quality specialist with the Northern Crops Institute, Fargo, ND. However, Dr. Tulbek added that researchers at NCI have found ways to improve a product’s nutritional profile by replacing 3 to 5% of its wheat flour with soy flour.
The soy replacement provides health benefits in four ways. First, the soy flour increases amino acid presence. Second, it increases water absorption, which gives bakers more batch volume. Third, soy flour adds healthy soy isoflavones. Finally, it adds protein to the products.
NCI has worked with soy flour in applications for bread, bagels, cookies, crackers and donuts, Dr. Tulbek stated. In donuts, soy flour decreases oil absorption in frying yielding lighter, less dense donuts.
In cake donuts, waffles and other sweet, baked or fried products, soy flour can be used as a way for formulators to manage their dairy costs, according to National Products, Inc., Grinnell, IA. The company’s roasted full-fat soy flour may replace 25 to 50% of the nonfat milk solids, reduce oil uptake in fried applications and extend shelf life in sweet baked foods.