Thursday, August 17, 2017

Whey Can Make a Difference

Photo source: U.S. Dairy Export Council

In the egg and egg replacement industries there’s a common saying, which is “no single ingredient can replace the functional and nutritional properties of eggs.” The same is true of whey protein ingredients, albeit the attributes are different than those of eggs. No single ingredient can replace the functional and nutritional properties of whey proteins.

The dairy industry needs to do a better job of formulating with whey proteins and touting their superiority. This is allowed and encouraged. 

If your company produces, distributes, uses or plans to use whey proteins, the place to be this September 17 to 20 is Chicago, where the International Whey Conference will take place. Held every four years, this is the meeting of the minds to discuss the past, present and focus on the future of commodity and specialty whey protein ingredients.

Topics include the state of the whey protein industry, overcoming processing issues when formulating foods and beverages with whey proteins, and developing affordable dairy foods enriched with powerful whey proteins. Regulatory, marketing and current research will be focal points over the three days of packed sessions. You can view the entire program HERE.

The fact is whey proteins are powerhouses. They can make a difference in the nutritional profile and ingredient list of many dairy foods, including cheese spreads, milk beverages, frozen desserts, yogurts and cultured dairy foods. They can boost protein levels and clean up ingredient legends.

At one point in time, whey was considered a byproduct of cheese. Today, cheese is often made for the sole purpose of obtaining whey for the growing global market. On Monday, September 18, Polly Olson, vice president-new business, sales and marketing, Agropur, will discuss emerging markets and innovation opportunities for whey proteins.

The last whey protein conference I attended was two years ago in Jerome, Idaho. Sponsored by Davisco, now Agropur Ingredients, the Alpha Summit provided a comprehensive overview of the specialty whey proteins market. Link HERE to an article I wrote on the summit for Food Business News.

At the summit, Paul Moughan, distinguished professor and director of the Riddet Institute in New Zealand, explained the importance of dietary protein quality in nutrition and health. He will speak again on this topic on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at the International Whey Conference.

“Protein is vital to support the health and well-being of human populations. However, not all proteins are alike, as they vary according to their origin, animal vs. plant, as well as their individual amino acid composition and their level of amino acid bioavailability,” he said. “High-quality proteins are those that are readily digestible in a form that can be utilized and contain the dietary essential amino acids in quantities that correspond to human requirements.”

In 2013, the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations recommended that a new, advanced method for assessing the quality of dietary proteins--Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS)--replace the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) as the preferred method of measuring protein quality.

“The recommendation of the DIAAS method is a dramatic change that will provide an accurate measure of the amounts of amino acids absorbed by the body and an individual protein source’s contribution to a human’s amino acid and nitrogen requirements,” said Dr. Moughan. “This will be an important piece of information for decision makers assessing foods that should be part of a sustainable diet for our growing global population.”

He explained that with the PDCAAS method, values are truncated to a maximum score of 1.00, even if scores derived are higher. Using the DIAAS method, researchers are now able to differentiate protein sources by their ability to supply amino acids for use by the body. The DIAAS method is able to demonstrate the higher bioavailability of dairy proteins when compared to plant-based protein sources.

Dr. Moughan did say that even with the DIAAS score, you don’t get the whole story about the quality of the protein. “The single score is based on the limiting amino acid in the protein,” he said. For example, the leucine component of alpha-lactalbumin—a type of whey protein--has a DIAAS score of 2.00 and the tryptophan component is 5.50. By reporting only the single score of 1.14, which is based on the limiting amino acid valine, the quality of the alpha-lactalbumin is not accurately communicated.

“High-quality data on the bioavailable amounts of individual amino acids in proteins and foods will maximize the information to consumers and health professionals,” said Dr. Moughan. “This will become a lot more important as the food industry increases efforts to support health and different physiological needs.”

According to Donald Layman, professor emeritus of nutrition, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, data indicate all humans need to make about the same amount of new protein every day for basic lean muscle repair and remodeling. But as we age, the efficiency of building new protein decreases. To reap the benefits of healthy muscles, one must consider the quality of the protein and the quantity of the protein at every meal.

“Below the age of 30, hormones drive growth. Even with a low-protein diet, children can still grow and produce new muscle,” he said. “But as you age, hormones no longer drive muscle growth and the essential muscle replacement is driven by the quality of the diet. Aging reduces the efficiency of protein use, but does not impair the capacity to respond.”
For optimum muscle health and function, research suggests that 30 grams of high-quality protein—like the protein you get from whey--should be consumed at every meal, and preferably proteins high in the essential amino acid leucine.

Whey proteins make a positive difference in dairy foods formulations. Learn more at the International Whey Conference. Hope to see you there.

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