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BIOBOARD - ASIA-PACIFIC
From soy waste to nutritious drink
NUS food scientists create healthy probiotic drink from soy pulp

About 10,000 tonnes of okara, the residue from the production of soy milk and tofu are produced yearly in Singapore. As it turns bad easily, causing it to give out an unpleasant smell and a sour taste, okara is usually discarded by soy food producers as food waste.

Food scientists at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have given okara a new lease of life by turning it into a refreshing drink that contains live probiotics, dietary fibre, free isoflavones and amino acids. By encapsulating these nutrients in a beverage, they can be easily absorbed into the body, and promote gut health.

Created using a patented zero-waste process, the tasty drink can be stored at room temperature for up to six weeks and still retain high counts of live probiotics to better deliver health effects. The drink takes about one and a half days to produce.

This is unlike commercially available probiotic drinks which are mainly dairy-based and require refrigeration to maintain their levels of live probiotics.

These beverages also have an average shelf-life of four weeks, and contain free isoflavones, which are naturally occurring antioxidants that maintain cardiovascular health, as well as dietary fibre and amino acids.

The drink uses the probiotic strain Lactobacillus paracasei L26, the Viscozyme L enzyme and the Lindnera saturnus NCYC 22 yeast to convert the okara into a nutritious drink that achieves a minimum of 1 billion probiotics per serving, which is the current recommendation by the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics to achieve maximum health benefits.

“Okara has an unpleasant smell and taste - it smells fishy, tastes bland, and has a gritty mouthfeel. Our breakthrough lies in our unique combination of enzymes, probiotics and yeast that work together to make okara less gritty, and give it a fruity aroma while keeping the probiotics alive. Our final product offers a nutritious, non-dairy alternative that is eco-friendly,” said project supervisor Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan, who is from the Food Science and Technology Programme at the NUS Faculty of Science.

The NUS researchers have filed a patent for their novel technique, and are currently experimenting with different enzymes and microorganisms to refine their recipe. They are also looking to collaborate with industry partners to introduce the drink to consumers.

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APBN Editorial Calendar 2019
January:
Taiwan Medical tourism
February:
Marijuana as medicine — Legal marijuana will open up scientific research
March:
Driven by curiosity
April:
Career developments for researchers
May:
What's cracking — Antibodies in ostrich eggs
June:
Clinical trials — What's in a name?
July:
Traditional Chinese medicine in modern healthcare — Integrating both worlds
August:
Digitalization vs Digitization — Exploring Emerging Trends in Healthcare
September:
Healthy Ageing — How Science is chipping in
October:
Disruptive Urban Farming — Microbes, Plasmids, and Recycling
November:
Evaluating cost effectiveness of genomic profiling
December:
Precision Medicine for Brain Tumours
Editorial calendar is subjected to changes.
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