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Calling on plants to fulfill protein’s promise

Food trends, combined with health and environmental concerns, are putting the spotlight on plant proteins. As foodmakers add protein to more of the things we eat, could a switch to plant-based proteins help our health and the planet? A comprehensive look at this topical topic.

It used to be that supplemental protein was something only bodybuilders were keen on. But now, even most regular-shaped eaters report they are looking to add more protein to their shopping carts. The macronutrient is super hip thanks to low-carb diet trends and claims that protein can help build lean muscle, keep you full longer, and even help you lose weight.

This so-called health halo seems to persist even though Americans, in particular, already get more than enough protein in their meat-heavy diets. Many nutritionists contend that protein mania is merely a passing fad, but food ingredient firms disagree.

To pack a protein punch, food makers can turn to animal sources such as dried egg whites or milk-derived casein and whey. But the balance is tilting in favor of plant ingredients, a shift that benefits companies such as DuPont, Solazyme, and Roquette.

Executives with those firms say the shift has many causes: rising dairy prices, demand for new ingredients in food and beverages, concerns about sustainability, and the popularity of heart-healthy diets based on plants. Soy is king among plant proteins, but demand is also high for new ingredients derived from peas, other oil seeds and even algae.

If sellers of plant-based ingredients are able to satisfy consumers’ desire for protein, they can do more than just steal market share from the livestock and dairy industries. A switch to plant proteins by those who can afford meat would go a long way to feeding the growing global population while using fewer of the planet’s resources.

Chemical & Engineering News, a respected publication of the American Chemical Society, has just published this comprehensive article on the topic; divided as follows:

  • A Food Trend With Muscle
  • Soy Versus the Competition
  • Protein Metabolism Interactive Graphic
  • Proteins and Health
  • Convincing the Carnivores

You can download a pdf of the full article, click here…

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