Protein is essential to life and nourishes many of the body’s systems. A protein-rich diet holds benefits for weight management, appetite, and blood sugar control. More than ever, consumers are looking to add more protein to their daily diet. However, they are not necessarily looking to add more meat and poultry for many reasons, but rather they are looking to add more plant-based foods. Soy was the frontrunner of plant proteins for many years. We now have many more plant protein options available to us, such as: nuts and seeds, nut butters, peas, beans, broccoli, chickpeas, greens, lentils, quinoa, and more. Not only do we have many more options, but it is also much more accessible in all grocery stores rather than having to visit a health food store. So, what is the magic ingredient in plants? Plants contain fiber, and most contain both soluble and insoluble fiber in varying amounts. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and includes plant pectin and gums. Whereas insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and includes plant cellulose and hemicellulose.
Both types of fiber are important for a healthy diet. According to Healthline, the right amount of fiber can help with many of the following health issues:
- Control body weight
- Supports gut health
- Control and possibly prevent hypertension
- Help balance cholesterol levels in the blood
- Regulate bowel movements and prevent hemorrhoids
- Regulate blood sugar
- Regulate your body’s satiation signals, which let you know when you’re full
- Lower risk of colon and breast cancers
- Lower risk of diabetes
- Require more chewing, which slows down your meals and aids digestion
This is all great news for our health, but how is the taste? The more insoluble fiber a plant contains, the more that it will taste like dirt. Today, most protein powders are made with protein concentrates and isolates, which is food stripped of everything but protein. Without fats and carbs, these isolates can have an unpleasant chalky aftertaste. Processing can alter the structure of the protein which causes a chalky mouthfeel. Most protein powders are sweetened with artificial sweeteners or stevia which are way sweeter than sugar. A little goes a long way. Some protein powders also have a bitter aftertaste because artificial sweeteners and stevia activate our bitter taste receptions in addition to the sweet taste receptors. Dirt, chalky, gritty, and bitter? Yuck! While it might be healthy, it sure doesn’t sound very appetizing… Check back next month and we will share how you can avoid some of the taste pitfalls, and improve the taste, texture, and mouthfeel.