Zoning in on Snacks

Soy protein isolate is the first item on ZonePerfect's, Beverly, Mass., Lemon Garlic flavored chip's ingredient statement. The ingredient is needed to meet the company's desired 40/30/30 ratio of carbohydrate, protein and dietary fat. All items in the ZonePerfect Nutrition Program meet this criteria. With 14g of soy protein per 1.5-ounce serving, the snacks “have 450+% more protein, 40% less fat, 20% fewer calories and 30% fewer carbohydrates than regular potato and corn chips,” notes the company.

“At ZonePerfect, we understand that, in order to adhere to an optimal-health nutrition plan, time is involved and that is the one thing many people simply don't have,” says Christopher Baker, CEO, ZonePerfect Nutrition Company. “The new ZonePerfect Snack Chips not only help solve the problem of time constraints, but also provide a great-tasting and healthy snack option for our customers.”

Other products under the ZonePerfect brand include nutrition bars, meals, and drinks, omega-3 and vitamin E supplements, puddings, baking and shake mixes, and macaroni & cheese. www.zoneperfect.com.

Classic Beans

Jelly Beans by Brach & Brock Confections, Chicago, are marketed as fat free, but are also (technically) “protein free,” in that its Nutrition Facts panel lists 0g protein. The ability of even minor amounts of soy protein to enhance texture comes into play, however, and “soy protein” is wedged between gelatin and egg whites on the ingredient statement.

Enjoy Your Soy

We'd be remiss if we didn't include at least one product incorporating soy protein with a reference to its heart health benefits. “Oatmeal Chocolate Chip—Soy Protein Cookies” by DrSoy Nutrition, Irvine, Calif., cleverly incorporates a “soy blend” consisting of dry roasted soybeans and isolated soy protein. The baked product also is formulated with a soy crisp rice consisting of soy protein isolate, rice flour and malt extract. The end result is that seven of the nine grams of protein per serving are from soy.

As is typical with many of the products fielded by the natural products industry, the ingredient legend specifies the non-GMO nature of the soy protein sources.

Precooked Needs

Sara Lee Bakery's Jimmy Dean Foods, Newbern, Tenn., recently introduced Heat 'N Serve Sausage Links that claim to have a “great taste from your skillet or microwave.” One formulation challenge their developers faced was the tendency for precooked, processed sausages to lose moisture. The formulators likely incorporated isolated soy protein for its ability to bind water, a property that's particularly valuable in meats where product weight and, thus, yield is important.

Ingredient Statistics: Soy Protein Isolates

Bars - 43%
Meals - 12%
Processed meats - 10%
Soup - 9%
Beverages - 6%
Snacks* - 5%
Baked goods & mixes - 5%
Other** - 10%
Total - 100%

* Includes hor d'oeuvres
**Includes pet foods, infant formulas, dietary supplements
n = 164 applications
Source: New Product News/GNPD & PF

Of 164 new foods and supplements listing “soy protein isolates” introduced into the North American market last year, 43% were in the form of a nutritional bar.

Sidebar: Purer Proteins

Interest in soy has rapidly grown, particularly with the advent of the 1999 FDA regulation permitting the link between soy protein and heart health.

However, a review of Mintel's Global New Product Database (GNPD) shows that most products containing soy proteins do so for their ability to impact non-nutritional product characteristics.

“Soy proteins can be used as gelling agents, for their 'whippability,' and for other functional characteristics,” says Mian Riaz, Ph.D., head of the Extrusion Technology Program, Texas A&M, College Station, Texas.

“For the last decade, the trend has been toward developing soy protein concentrates with functional properties that meet the needs of an increasing range of food products,” states George Rakes, assistant director, Food Protein Research, Central Soya, Fort Wayne, Ind. “Traditionally, soy protein concentrates have been used in meat and vegetarian products for their ability to manage moisture, emulsify fat, and build texture—while providing high-quality protein. More recently, new types of soy protein concentrates that are highly-soluble, low in viscosity, and very neutral in flavor have been developed to meet the needs in foods such as beverages, yogurts, and other dairy-like products.”

“You need to think about what kind of proteins you want and in what application,” says Riaz. Soy isolates are 90+% protein, are very soluble and have little aftertaste; less expensive soy concentrates are 70 to 90% protein. Additionally, suppliers offer an array of ingredients with special properties such as different pHs, particle sizes and solubility. “Our work continues to be focused on obtaining proteins with a very high PDI (protein dispersibility index). Heat processing denatures protein, which results in a lower solubility and, thus, lower PDI.”
—Claudia D. O'Donnell, Chief Editor