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Processing soy does not compromise its nutritional benefits

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People are increasingly turning to plant-based diets for all sorts of reasons, in particular to improve their health and reduce their greenhouse gas footprint. This shift is sending sales of plant-based foods soaring, with some estimates suggesting the market could top $160 billion By the end of the decade.

Despite this reshaping of the food landscape, concerns about the nutritional quality of plant-based alternatives and negative perceptions of the impact of processing may hinder those making change.

So Unilever and scientists from Wageningen University and Institute set out to challenge these perceptions by looking at processed soybeans. Processed soy is a widely used ingredient across our food portfolio, including our Vegetarian Butcher range and ice cream products.

of results of the study It was pretty blatant.

Amelia German, our Future Health and Wellness Science and Technology Director, explains: In fact, processing soy slightly increases the nutritional value of the protein.

“Given the growing demand from consumers who are looking to be environmentally conscious and move away from meat, but still looking for nutritious, high-quality food, this study will provide a meat-free alternative. is really exciting because it proves that it actually meets our body’s protein requirements.

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Soybeans are a popular ingredient in plant foods due to their high protein content and quality. However, soy cannot be added in its natural form to things like plant-based chicken chunks or ice cream. Before it can be used, it must undergo various forms of treatment, such as soaking, heating, and dehulling.

To better understand the impact of processing on protein quality, this study evaluated the Digestible Essential Amino Acid Score (DIAAS) (a standardized scale of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) for various products. A higher score indicates that the protein source meets the body’s requirements, and a score of 75 or higher is considered good.

Analysis of the data showed different protein quality scores across soy product groups, but soy protein concentrate has a DIAAS score of 88 and is most commonly used in foods such as plant-based meats in vegetarian butchers. . Soybeans (85 points).

This research confirms that the soy ingredients we use in our plant foods are an excellent source of protein and are as good as the protein quality of soybeans.

Make healthier, plant-based options accessible to all

It’s been known for some time that the world can’t feed sustainably at its current rate. It is clear that meat and dairy alternatives are urgently needed.

In 2020, we committed to helping people transition to plant-based diets that are healthier for themselves and the planet. Future Foods dedication. We have pledged to reach €1 billion in annual sales of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives by 2025-27. This means consumers will see a wider range of vegan and vegetarian options from our brands.

The knowledge gained from this latest research will help us meet our sustainability commitments and further innovate in plant-based meat. It’s something that is achievable, given that it continues.

Plant-based alternatives offer huge commercial growth potential while offering an easy way for consumers to transition to a more sustainable diet. Haneke Faber, President, Global Nutrition, The Company said: