Milk provides superior protein to mixed diet protein, research says

  • March 7, 2013
  • Sophie Langley

A United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) report, ‘Dietary protein quality evaluation in human nutrition’, has found that protein from dairy is nutritionally superior to protein from vegetable and cereal sources.

The findings are based on a new method of measuring protein quality in food.

The report, which is the result of the 2011 FAO Expert Consultation on Protein Quality Evaluation in Human Nutrition, found that the usual method for measuring protein quality was limited and has recommended the new method replace it.

The new method, called the Digestible Indispensible Amino Acid Score (DIAAS), gives whole milk powder a score of 69 for infants, 122 for children, and 143 for older children, adolescents and adults.

In contrast, the report says a mixture of wheat, peas and whole milk powder has a DIAAS score of 56 for infants, 68 for children and 82 for older children, adolescents and adults.

The current method, the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS), has been in use since 1989, but new research findings since then mean that its usefulness is limited.

“In dietary protein quality evaluation, dietary amino acids should be treated as individual nutrients and wherever possible data for digestible or bioavailable amino acids should be given in food tables on an individual amino acid basis,” said the report.

The report said it was determined that the terminal ileum, which is the end of the small intestine, “is considered to better reflect the amounts of amino acids absorbed and should be used in calculating DIAAS.”

“Digestibility should be based on the true ileal digestibility of each amino acid,” the report said.

In January 2013, Australian Food News noted that new research from Mintel, showing an increased appetite for high protein products in the US, could demonstrate additional opportunities in the Australian food industry for potential growth in dairy expanding and value-adding in the protein dairy powder categories.

This latest report from the UN FAO is likely to bolster marketing opportunities for dairy-based protein products.


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