Soy-sational Eats

by Meyer Sosland
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More Americans are incorporating soy foods into their diet. As such, soy has become increasingly important as an ingredient and as a tool for marketing the healthfulness of foods. Soy has many recognized health benefits from cancer prevention to increasing bone density to relieving menopausal symptoms.

However, the only Food and Drug Administration-approved health claim that products containing soy protein can make at this time is in regard to the reduced risk of heart disease. FDA concluded that eating 25 g of soy protein per day may reduce the risk of heart disease, if part of a diet low in saturated fats and cholesterol; therefore, foods that have one-quarter of this amount, or 6.25 g per serving, can make a health claim on its packaging. Still pending at FDA is a claim involving soy’s ability to reduce the risk of cancer.

The popularity of low-carb, high-protein diets has led also to soy flour and soy proteins being added to many grain-based foods. Soy protein possesses a notable ability to satiate, thus helping in weight management by controlling hunger.

Soy is available in many forms from soy protein isolates to roasted soybeans. It is being added to an increasing variety of foods including cereals, pastas, snack items and bread, so that food companies can market the benefits of soy and their products.

Flowers Foods Bakeries Group, Thomasville, GA, recently introduced Nature’s Own Wheat ‘n Soy bread in the Southeast, Southwest and Mid-Atlantic states. The bread features 4.3 g of soy protein per slice.

“Many health-conscious consumers are looking for an easy and tasty way to add soy to their diet,” said Janice Anderson, vice-president of marketing for Flowers Bakeries Group. “In the past, they’ve had to turn to less mainstream foods, like tofu or soy nuts. Now they can go to the bread aisle of their supermarket and find soy in a familiar food like bread.”

She noted that the soy protein found in Nature’s Own Wheat ‘n Soy is the same beneficial protein researchers have linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. “Wheat ‘n Soy may have one of the highest grams of soy per slice compared with other similar commercially produced breads,” Ms. Anderson said. “In addition, this bread is an excellent source of calcium, is low in cholesterol and, like all Nature’s Own breads, contains no artificial preservatives, colors, flavors or trans fats.”

The Hain Celestial Group, Inc., Melville, NY, manufactures and markets a variety of food brands and lines that particularly emphasize their status as “natural products.” It recently developed a new Carb Fit line that uses soy protein concentrate as a primary ingredient.

Carb Fit Pasta, marketed under the DeBoles brand name, comes in four varieties: penne, spaghetti, rotini and elbows. It is available in 8-oz boxes. Soy concentrate and soy flour are the top two ingredients in the pasta, yet the word soy does not figure prominently as a graphic on the packaging. Instead, the boxes declare that the pasta contains only 8 g of net carbs per half-cup serving. The company uses the net-carb equation of subtracting dietary fiber content from the total carbohydrates.

Hain PureSnax Carb Fit Twirls Crispy Soy Snacks’ main ingredient is soy protein concentrate. The ingredient statement also lists defatted soy flour. The new twirls, which are available in nacho cheese and cool ranch flavors, come in 1-oz and 4-oz bags and have 5 g of net carbs per serving. Hain PureSnax also markets Salted and Red Hot Soy Nuts under the Carb Fit label.

Hain Celestial’s Health Valley brand offers Heart Wise cereal, which prominently displays the product’s soy protein content inside a large red heart on the front of the box. The front of the box also states that the cereal contains 6.25 g of protein from soy, which qualifies it for the FDA-approved health claim.

Go Lean Crunch! cereal from Kashi Co., La Jolla, CA, is made with textured soy protein concentrate and contains the necessary 6.25 g of soy protein per 53-g serving to make the approved health claim.

Protein Plus brand cereal, distributed by Benefit Nutrition a division of Miracle Foods, Ridgewood, NJ, prominently displays that the product is made with soy. At 12 g of protein per serving, the cereal is 30% protein content. It is designed for the 40:30: 30 diet, which advocates an eating pattern of 40% carbohydrates, 30 protein and 30% fat for optimum athletic performance or weight loss. The cereal — available in boxes as well as snack bags for “athletic people on the go!” — also emphasizes an active lifestyle associate with consuming the cereal. Its packaging features images of individuals engaged in sports.

With 12 g of soy protein per serving, GeniSoy Soy Nuts from GeniSoy Products Co., Fairfield, CA, have nearly half the daily amount FDA recommends for reducing the risk of heart disease. GeniSoy Soy Nuts are available in four varieties including hickory smoked, zesty barbecue, deep sea salted and unsalted. In addition to its soy protein content, the 3.5 oz resealable bag also plays up the fact that the soy nuts have 60% less fat than peanuts.
Zoe Foods, Newton, MA, markets Zoe Flax & Soy Granola cereal in almonds-oats, cranberries-currants and applecinnamon flavors. Each serving of the cereal, which includes roasted soybeans and crisped soy nuggets (isolated soy protein, rice flour, malt, salt), features 5 g of soy protein and a total of 9 g of protein. The cereals also have between 15 mg and 17 mg per serving of soy isoflavones, depending on the variety. Product packaging touts soy’s weight management properties and help in managing hot flashes in women. Zoe Flax & Soy Bars are available in lemon, apple crisp, peanut butter and chocolate flavors and are made with the same soy ingredients as the cereal. The bars include between 4.5 g and 6 g of soy protein per serving.

Tom Sturgis Pretzels, Inc, Reading, PA, makes Tom Sturgis Soy Pretzels, “formulated for a low-carb diet.” The primary ingredients in the pretzels are isolated soy protein and blended wheat flour. The front of the package notes that each 1-oz, 11-pretzel serving contains 7 g of net carbs. It also states that the pretzels are “an ideal low-carb snack and a great source of protein.”

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