Soy on the Breakfast Table

Breakfast foods are finally getting their fair share of soy.

Eating a proper breakfast, as your mother always told you, is good for you. In fact, eating a proper breakfast has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and improve the body’s response to insulin.

Three quarters of Americans perceive soy as healthy, with around one in four enjoying at least one serving of soy products per week.

Soybeans are a great source of protein. In fact, the soybean is 38 percent protein and unlike virtually every other plant protein, soy protein gives you enough required amino acids so that you don’t need other protein sources to make up amino acid deficiencies. Soybeans are also a source of phytochemicals, particularly flavonoids such as isoflavone.

Isoflavones have estrogenic activity — they interact with estrogen receptors in our bodies strongly enough to influence our metabolism in many beneficial ways. In 1999 the FDA allowed a health claim for soy, “Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving of (food) provides X grams of soy protein.” To qualify for the health claim the food must:
  • contain at least 6.25 g of soy protein
  • contain less than 3 g fat (low fat)
  • contain less than 1 g of saturated fat
  • contain less than 20 mg of cholesterol.
The basis of the above health claim is the data suggesting these amounts of soy protein lead to a significant reduction in blood cholesterol and reduced CVD risk. Much of the clinical evidence gleaned from studies in Japanese soy consumers strongly suggests beneficial effects on prostate cancer in men, and decreased bone loss in post-menopausal women.

Soy protein is also easy to include as an added ingredient in processed health foods. “It has a clean, bland flavor and smooth mouthfeel, allowing high inclusion rates as needed for ease in meeting formulation and soy protein health claim goals,” says David Singsank, vice president of American Health & Nutrition Inc. makers of organic, hexane-free Soy-n-ergy ISP-90 protein.

To the Cereal Bowl

“One of the advantages of soy products for breakfast is the similarity of many soy offerings to the (traditional breakfast) foods they are replacing,” says Mark Messina, Ph.D., adjunct professor, Loma Linda University, international soy expert and author. Soy milk is one example of this. Many consumers are switching from dairy milk to soy milk. “Silk (White Wave, now a division of Dean Foods) changed the face of soy milk availability with refrigerated soy milk,” Messina points out.

Putting soy milk in a milk-like container makes the purchase experience more like buying milk. Positioning soy milk in the refrigerated section reduces the flavor differential between milk and soy milk, and sweetening and adding cocoa to make chocolate soy milk gets the kids involved. All three reduce barriers to consumers switching to soy milk.

Cereals and waffles are to the American breakfast what apple pie is to dessert, and soy is significant in this category. Soy-fortified and soy-based versions of these products are growing significantly as players once relegated to the health food segment move into the conventional grocery store. Nature’s Path offers soy-supplemented oatmeals and extruded cereals, and Kashi offers soy in the entire range of its new GOLEAN line of cereals, meal replacements and nutrition bars while retaining the soy in their Good Friends cereals and their Heart to Heart waffles. Van's Flax and Soy Organic Waffles are now mainstream as well.

Breakfast without sausage and bacon – no coffee shop/diner could survive this gap and soy is making a big showing in this category as well with soy versions of breakfast sausages offered by Morningstar Farms, Boca (Kraft), Lightlife (ConAgra), and Yves Veggie Cuisine.

Soy: It’s what’s for breakfast.

— John K. Ashby is General Manager - Ingredients, for California Natural Products, a pioneering manufacturer of rice ingredients for the food industry.

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