Plant-based milks are generally lower in protein than cow’s milk. Nearly a third of them also lack calcium and vitamin D when compared to the dairy alternative.
Previous studies have shown that plant-based milks are low in four important minerals: phosphorus (as well as magnesium), zinc, and selenium.
Now, Abigail Johnson from the University of Minnesota, along with her colleagues, has analyzed the nutritional labels of 237 products that are available or were in the US. These include milk alternatives made of almonds, oats, and rice, as well as soya bean-based products.
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The researchers then compared the protein, calcium, and vitamin D content of this milk to that of cow’s dairy milk using data from a nutrition database. The results were presented in Boston at Nutrition2023 – the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition.
Researchers found that only 19% of plant-based milks met or exceeded cow’s dairy milk in terms of protein content, which is essential for muscle growth, digestion, and energy.
The average plant-based milk had only 2 grams of proteins per 240 ml, but there was a wide range of products. Cow’s milk, however, has 8 grams, whether it is full fat, semi-skimmed, or skimmed. Johnson says that plant-based milk with protein levels equal to or greater than cow’s dairy products tends to be made from soya.
Johnson says that even though you may be using plant-based milk in place of cow’s milk, it’s not a 1:1 substitution. She says that most people can get enough protein from other foods, like meat, beans, and legumes.
Sixty-nine percent of plant-based milks are fortified, which means they have nutrients added at levels not found in nature. The calcium and vitamin levels in these products were the same as those found in cow’s dairy milk. The stories of calcium and vitamin D were lower in unfortified products. Calcium and vitamin D both help strengthen bones, while vitamin D boosts the immunity system.
According to a spokesperson from the US Food and Drug Administration, these nutrients are underconsumed.
Motif, another company, produces beef myoglobin in the form of an add-on known as Hemani, which is used for meat substitutes. It is planning to manufacture it using modified maize in order to increase production.
Dhingra said that the proteins added to Piggy Sooy were chosen for the “feel” in the mouth after the food was cooked. However, he would not comment on whether myoglobin is one of the proteins or if anyone had tried the Piggy Sooy bean.
Dhingra says that products such as Piggy Sooy can help to make our food supply sustainable.
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Mark Lynas, an environmental writer, thinks the same. He says that it should be more environmentally sustainable and avoid intensive animal farming.
Lynas argues that is the reason for the opposition to genetically engineered crops. He’s not sure how PiggySooy will be received by the public.
“I have no idea what will happen.” “It’s fascinating that they’ve gone all-out to the ‘piggy,’ thing. There is no attempt made to sweeten the pills,” says Lynas. “Of Course, Scientifically, it’s only a protein. And we already engineer many plants and microbes that make desirable proteins,” says Lynas.
The production of transgenic protein in plants and bacteria is called molecular agriculture. “While we’re not aware of any research that specifically looks at molecular agriculture, there are strong indications that consumers are looking for more sustainable alternatives to livestock farming,” says Seren Kell from the Good Food Institute Europe. “Sales of plants-based alternatives have increased by 21% in Europe since 2020.”
Wood says that Bordeaux wines will continue to improve with climate change and as these weather patterns become commonplace. However, there will be a point where it is too hot and dried for grapes to thrive. Wood says, “we can’t know from this analysis when the failure point will occur.”
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He says that vineyards will also be increasingly affected by extreme weather events such as wildfires, flooding, and hailstorms. These could destroy entire harvests.
Wood, who conducted the study, believes that other vineyards in the world that grow similar grape varietals, like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, should also benefit.
He says that winemakers can use these findings to improve their wines. For example, they could irrigate the soil in winter and trim the foliage of vines to reduce the shading of grapes. They could also increase drainage or erect rain covers in the event of a rainy summer.