Wellness Food Trends: Whey Protein Gaining Popularity

As a functional ingredient, whey does not compromise on taste, clarity or stability in beverages.

By Diane Toops, News & Trends Editor

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Hilmar Ingredients, a division of Hilmar Cheese Co., Hilmar, Calif., prides itself on the prototypes it develops. "We developed six popular beverages that demonstrate our whey's nutritional and functional advantages in different beverage types," says Gwen Bargetzi, director of marketing. "We are also selling them only at the Know Whey Bar located in our Visitor Center Café.

"It's a great way to introduce the general public to whey in tasty, nutritional beverages -- we get lots of visitors since our California location is the world's largest single-site cheese and whey manufacturing plant. Plus our staff members frequent the Café. We're hoping to improve their beverage choices from Red Bull and Coke to a protein-fortified smoothie or high protein clear sport drink."

Whey takes aim at cardiovascular disease

Researchers at Washington State University found that whey protein, often associated with physical fitness and muscle growth, helps lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure in young, pre-hypertension individuals, reports WholeFoods Magazine.

The study, which grouped young men and women 18-26 into groups according to their blood pressure, found those with normal blood pressure were unaffected by consuming 28g of either hydrolyzed or non-hydrolyzed whey protein beverage, and their blood pressure neither rose nor fell during the course of the study.

Groups with high blood pressure, however, experienced an 8.0 and 8.6 decrease of systolic and diastolic blood pressure, respectively. These improvements began in the first week and continued throughout the duration of the six-week study.

These findings have positive implications for consumers and the dairy industry alike, and could potentially facilitate a boom in the market demand for whey protein.

Biochemist and lead researcher Susan Fleugal, says that such marked decreases in blood pressure can "reduce cardiovascular disease and bring a 35 to 40 percent reduction in fatal strokes." And since cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of women and men in the U.S., these findings are compelling and significant.

Next generation of whey products

A new generation of whey products known as Bioactive Whey Fraction (BAWF) protein has the potential to be a worthwhile addition to an athlete's diet, reports Men's Health. This innovative ingredient contains far higher total growth factor levels comprised from IGF-1, TGF-1, and TGF-2, higher levels of various phospholipids and various bioactive lipids, such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), phosphotidyl-serine (PS), phosphtidyl-choline, (PC) sphingomyelin, and higher levels of immunoglobulins and lactoferrin than other whey proteins.

Current studies suggest these compounds can improve immunity and intestinal health, and have many other effects that both athletes and less active people alike may find beneficial. When comparing a BAWF protein to a typical concentrate (e.g. WPC 80), the BAWF protein has 350 percent more lactoferrin, 400 percent more CLA, 200 percent more PS more and PC and 150 percent more IGF as found in the concentrate. The differences are even larger between BAWF protein and an isolate as isolates have only trace amounts of PS, PC, and CLA.

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