Researchers mix probiotics into soy protein bars

by Jeff Gelski
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COLUMBIA, MO. — Researchers at the University of Missouri have incorporated probiotic strains into soy protein energy bars, thus easing the intestinal bloating and discomfort brought on by digesting soy.

The researchers screened several probiotic strains before settling on Lactobacillus acidophilus, a strain already used in fermented dairy products such as yogurt, said Dr. Azlin Mustapha, Ph.D., an associate professor and food science researcher at the university. The strains are known for their ability to produce alpha-galactosidase, an enzyme that breaks down two hard-to-digest carbohydrates found in soy: raffinose and stachyose.

The probiotic strains were encapsulated and freeze dried for protection and longer shelf life. They were mixed into the soy bars after the bars were baked. A sensory test involved 50 untrained panelists tasting samples from three kinds of soy protein bars. Some bars contained encapsulated freeze-dried probiotics while some contained unencapsulated prebiotics and others had no probiotics.

"They could detect no difference in flavor or quality in the three," Ms. Mustapha said.

After two months, the number of probiotic strains still in each soy bar was a high number, or more than 1 million strains, Ms. Mustapha said.

"Freeze-dried, microencapsulated probiotics may be a promising way to produce more functional soy food products without the unwanted side effects," she said.

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