Soy: a healthy trend for Canadians
By Jeanine Moyer
Soy is making headway into everyday diets for many Canadians.
Soy has been given another nod of approval in the latest edition of Canada’s Food Guide. Fortified soy beverage has been added to the list of milk and meat alternatives alongside tofu, which had previously been the only other soy product in the Food Guide.
Soy beverages are now recognized as part of a healthy diet in Canada’s Food Guide and should boost consumption towards $134 million by 2010.
The significance of the recent addition of soy beverage to the Food Guide recognizes soy for its healthy attributes and ability to assist Canadians in making healthy food choices and reduces the risk of chronic disease. Soyfoods are low in saturated fat, cholesterol-free and packed with essential nutrients and more Canadians are becoming aware of these benefits, thanks to Canada’s Food Guide.
“The inclusion of soyfoods in Canada’s Food Guide highlights the fact that soyfoods can contribute to a healthy diet through helping to meet the nationally recommended number of food guide servings each day,”
says Alison Duncan, registered dietitian and researcher at the University of Guelph.
Nutritional recommendations of the guide are tailored by age, gender and serving sizes. Canada’s Food Guide
recommends soyfoods serving sizes of 250mL (one cup) for fortified soy beverages, 30mL to 45mL (two to three tablespoons) of unsaturated fat such as soybean oil and 150g (3⁄4 cup) for tofu.
“Recognizing soy in the Food Guide is an indication of support from experts in the federal government that soy can play an important part in a healthy diet and contributes to healthy eating,” says Duncan. The inclusion of soy beverage in the Food Guide reinforces some important market trends that can be seen in soyfoods. Soy beverage is one of the fastest growing soyfoods on the market. The value of soy beverages in Canada grew from $32.6 million in
2000 to $81.2 million in 2005, with an average growth rate of 20 percent. The forecast for the Canadian soy beverage market is optimistic with the total Canadian value expected to reach $134 million in 2010 and an average 10.5 percent growth rate.
“We hope that with the addition of soy beverage in the Food Guide, Canadians will be encouraged to include more soyfoods in their diets,” says John Michaelides, director of research and technology at the Guelph Food Technology Centre. “Soy consumption is an increasing trend that will benefit all sectors of the soy industry from growers to ingredient suppliers and processors to retailers.”
Michaelides demonstrates this by referring to a consumer attitude about nutrition study sponsored by the United Soybean Board in the US. The study showed that perception of soy as a health food jumped from 67 percent in
1998 to 82 percent in 2006. That is a significant upwards trend in consumer awareness.
It is estimated that about 30 percent of consumers put this knowledge into practice by consuming soyfoods once a month or more, helping soy and soyfoods make the leap from traditional Asian fare to a health food in a market that is full of opportunity.
Jeanine Moyer is communications co-ordinator with Ontario Soybean Growers in Guelph.
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