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Illinois scientists promote soy by currying favor with Indian taste buds
Date:10/19/2010

URBANA University of Illinois scientists think they have solved an interesting problem: how to get protein-deficient Indian schoolchildren to consume soy, an inexpensive and complete vegetable protein. What's more, they've joined forces with an Indian foundation that can get the high-protein soy snack they've developed into the hands of 1.2 million hungry kids who need it.

"Although the country has decidedly vegetarian tastes, the Indian people just don't care for soy," said Soo-Yeun Lee, a U of I associate professor of food science and human nutrition.

India is one of the world's top five soy producers, but the country exports most of its crop, keeping only the oil for domestic consumption. That's unfortunate because 24 percent of India's population is undernourished, and protein deficiency is an even greater concern. Eating more soy could help to alleviate that problem, the researcher said.

Because Indians are avid snackers, Lee and her U of I colleagues experimented with nine soy snack recipes, running into minor bumps along the way due to the ability of soy protein to bind flavors, which causes flavor fade and makes the soy taste more pronounced.

The extrusion process the food scientists were using also increased the snack's hardness when more protein was added.

Those problems solved, Lee and her colleagues moved onto the next phase of the projectconsumer taste tests. Seventy-two members of a surrogate Indian population in the Champaign-Urbana area were asked to participate in a sensory panel.

Snacks that were crunchy, salty and/or spicy, and contained umami, cumin, and curry flavors received high marks from participants. Panelists turned thumbs down on snacks with rougher, porous textures and wheat flavor and aroma.

The soy snacks were then given to a 62-member sensory panel recruited at the International Society for Krishna Consciousness Temple in Bangalore, India.

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Contact: Phyllis Picklesimer
p-pickle@illinois.edu
217-244-2827
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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