Soy foods can play an important role in Reducing Protein energy malnutrition (PEM) in India
National Conference on “Soy nutrition and Soy opportunities : Creating Linkages” at Taj Santacruz, Mumbai
USSEC (United States Soybean Export Council) in collaboration with the Association of Food Scientists and Technologist, Soy Food Promotion and Welfare Association, Soy Processors Association and Solvent Extractors Association of India organised an event on “Soy nutrition and Soy opportunities Creating Linkages” in Mumbai here today. Speakers deliberated on the various aspects of the sector and addressing the relevant issues to recommend for the policy driven support to include soy in government feeding and social welfare programs and for the general consumption to ensure nutrition security of India as well as to lead a healthy life preventing from above mentioned fatal diseases.’
India is home to the largest population of severely malnourished children in the world, and child malnutrition is a risk factor for 22.4% 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. Almost 1/3rd of Indian population is suffering from malnutrition and similarly equal number of people are suffering from diet related degenerative diseases like 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 6.3 crore Indians are suffering from diabetes and 4.5 crores with the CVD. Cardiovascular diseases are major causes of mortality and disease in the Indian subcontinent, causing more than 25% 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.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Ratan Sharma, Director- India & ASC Soy Food Program, U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) said” That 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% 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 litres of milk or 1 kg of mutton or 24 eggs.
Dr. Sharma discussed about various soy products including of the soymilk, tofu, soy nuggets, soy fortified wheat flour and gram flour, soy based Dal Analogue, and suggested that these products have been made by using high end processing technology, tasty and safe for consumption. He further emphasised that soy could be a wonderful solution to reduce the protein calorie malnutrition in India, and our government should include soy as a main nutritional ingredient for various supplementary nutrition and welfare programs to ensure a healthy young generation. Dr. Sharma mentioned that soy fortified wheat flour can be widely used in the Public Distribution System. He pointed out that India imports more than five million metric tons of the Dal (lentils) from other countries. Government should think to promote the soy based Dal Analogue which is an extruded product by using wheat, soy and corn. This Dal Analogue is similar to our regular dals in cooking characteristics and taste. It is much cheaper than the regular Dal and superior in nutrition. This can reduce the import burden to the government up to a great extent.
Mr. Adam Branson, Sr. Agriculture Attaché, FAS, US Consulate, Mumbai said” Soybean is one of the very few plants those provide a high quality protein with minimum saturated fat. Soybean helps people feel better and live longer with an enhanced quality of life. Soybeans contain all the three macronutrients required for good nutrition, as well as fiber, vitamins, minerals. Soybean protein provides all the essential amino acids in the amounts needed for human health. Protein in just 250 grams of soy bean is equivalent to protein in 3 liters of milk or 1 kg of mutton or 24 no’s of eggs. In addition to being a rich source of nutrients, soybean has a number of phytochemicals (isoflavones), which offer health benefits along with soy protein. Soy protein and isoflavones together contribute to a number of health benefits such as, cancer prevention, cholesterol reduction, keeping heart healthy, combating osteoporosis and menopause regulation. Being low in glycaemic index soy plays a very important role in maintaining the low sugar levels in diabetics”.
Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) accounts for 53 percent of deaths in India. Based on available evidence cardiovascular diseases (24 percent), chronic respiratory diseases (11 percent), cancer (6 percent) and diabetes (2 percent) are the leading cause of mortality in India. Treatment cost is almost double for NCDs as compared to other conditions and illnesses. Burden of NCDs and resultants mortality is expected to increase unless massive efforts are made to prevent and control NCDs and their risk factor. In 2005 WHO estimated that India will have lost $237 billion (in 1998 constant international dollars) between 2006 and 2015 from premature deaths due to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Although India boasts of the largest vegetarian population in the world, and is globally the number one consumer of plant protein, the country’s per caput per day consumption (availability) of pulses has paradoxically sunk by a third over the past half a century, having dropped from 61 gm in 1961 to around 40 gm by 2011. The fall in pulse consumption principally reflects the failure of pulse production to keep pace with population growth. Recent surveys suggest that 90% of vegetarians and 85% of non-vegetarians in India are deficient in protein. Also, more than 60% of protein for Indians is coming from cereals, which have of inferior quality. This is leading to both protein as well as protein quality malnutrition. Recently soy food processing has been visualised as a very good source of creating employment opportunities on a small, medium and large scale. India is the fifth largest producer of soybeans but lack of awareness about its nutritional value and the proper processing technologies this product is not getting the due acceptance in the Indian diet. Although the soy food processing sector is growing at a faster rate of 10% annually it still needs to develop with a pace to bridge the protein gap existing in the country. Considering soy, as a least expensive source of protein and other nutrients Indian Government should promote the processing and utilization of soy products on a mass scale with proper policy supports.