New scientific evidence shows whey proteins support health goals across generations

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A research study carried out by Nielsen in 2017 revealed that 37 percent of consumers in Singapore prioritize the quality of ingredients when purchasing or consuming food. As part of ongoing efforts to showcase the importance of dairy protein intake for consumers, the US Dairy Export Council (USDEC) has released findings highlighting how whey proteins can meet the growing demand for quality nutrients in food and beverage in the wider Asia region.

Whey protein is a byproduct of cheese production that can be added to food and beverage to boost nutritional content. A new study published in Nutrition Reviewssuggests the beneficial effects of consuming whey protein also apply to women, building upon earlier demonstrated research supporting benefits for men. In this systematic review and meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials totaling nearly 500 adult women, researchers found adding whey protein to a daily diet improved body composition by modest increases in lean mass without influencing changes in fat mass. Additionally, body composition improvements were even greater during reduced calorie diets, which suggest that whey protein may be helpful in preserving lean muscle mass during periods of weight loss.

“Dairy proteins are a natural fit with Asia’s nutritional demands. They are suitable for consumers across all generations, whether for general consumers trying to manage their weight, for athletes who need to maintain optimum muscle mass and performance, or for the elderly who might require higher quality nutrition in older age,” says Pauline Chan, director, Food & Nutrition Consultants, Singapore.

They are suitable for consumers across all generations, whether for general consumers trying to manage their weight, for athletes who need to maintain optimum muscle mass and performance, or for the elderly who might require higher quality nutrition in older age

“Not all protein sources can boast these benefits, given the differences in protein quality,” says Dalilah Ghazalay, regional director at USDEC Southeast Asia. Southeast Asian consumers are becoming more conscious and informed about nutritional content when consuming food.  The 2017 Nielsen study showed that regardless of age group–baby boomers (50-64 years old), Generation X (35- 49 years old) and Generation Y (25-34 years old)–achieving health and wellness was their top priority.

Another newly published review in Advances in Nutrition demonstrated the crucial role of protein in achieving quality nutrition intake. The composition of amino acids in dairy proteins provides the nutrients needed to give a holistic protein intake for the body across all ages, and namely the amino acid leucine, in reducing the risk of age-related muscle loss. Leucine, found in whey proteins, may be especially beneficial to preserving muscle mass when consumed as part of a higher protein diet as it plays a key role in stimulating muscle protein synthesis. Based on their findings, the authors recommend older individuals consume a minimum of 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

These are just two of a growing number of published nutrition studies supporting the benefits of incorporating whey from dairy into daily eating plans. Whey protein is a versatile ingredient that can be added to foods, such as smoothies, yoghurt, oatmeal or beverages, as a convenient way to increase protein consumption throughout the day. To meet the tastes and preferences of consumers without compromising on quality and diversity, food manufacturers have begun developing innovative products that incorporate whey protein into various snacks, nutrition bars, baking mixes, cuisine and more.