USSEC, in collaboration with the Association of Food Scientists and Technologist (India), Soy Food Promotion and Welfare Association, Soy Processors Association and Solvent Extractors’ Association of India recently organized a one-day conference, “Soy Nutrition and Soy Opportunities: Creating Linkages” in Mumbai, India.
With nearly one-third of the Indian population suffering from malnutrition and a similarly equal number of people suffering from diet-related degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes which are on the top of the causes of deaths in most parts of India, especially among the urban population. It is estimated that more than 63 million Indians are suffering from diabetes and 45 million with CVD.
Cardiovascular diseases are major causes of mortality and disease in the Indian subcontinent, causing more than 25 per cent of deaths. It has been predicted that these diseases will increase rapidly and India will be the host for more than half the cases of heart disease in the world within the next 15 years. Moreover, India is home to the largest population of severely malnourished children in the world, and child malnutrition is a risk factor for 22.4 percent of total burden of disease. Malnutrition is more common in India than in Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite significant efforts, the reduction in the prevalence of malnutrition in India over the last decade has been small.
Soy is a highly nutritious food. Soybean is one of the very few plants that provide a high quality protein with minimum saturated fat. Soybeans contain all the three macronutrients required for good nutrition, as well as fiber, vitamins and minerals. Soybeans help people feel better and live longer with an enhanced quality of life. Soy contains 40 percent protein, making it higher in protein than any other legumes and many animal products. Protein in just 250 grams of soybean is equivalent to protein in 3 liters of milk or 1 kilogram of mutton or 24 eggs.
-Dr. Ratan Sharma, USSEC Director - India & ASC Soy Food Program
Dr. Sharma discussed various soy products including soymilk, tofu, soy nuggets, soy fortified wheat flour and gram flour, and soy-based dal analogue, suggesting that these products have been made by using high end processing technology and are tasty and safe for consumption. He further emphasized that soy could be a wonderful solution to reduce the protein calorie malnutrition in India, and the Indian government should include soy as a main nutritional ingredient for various supplementary nutrition and welfare programs to ensure a healthy young generation.
Dr. Sharma pointed out that soy fortified wheat flour can be widely used in the Public Distribution System, saying that India imports more than five million metric tons (MMT) of the dal (lentils) from other countries. He suggested that the government promote the soy-based dal analogue, which is an extruded product by using wheat, soy and corn. This dal analogue is similar to India’s regular dals in cooking characteristics and taste, but is much cheaper than regular dal and superior in nutrition. This can reduce the import burden to the government up to a great extent.