A team from four Australian universities and soyfoods maker So Natural Foods are recruiting people for a trial to see if combination low-fat dairy and soy foods will have an impact on reducing cholesterol and be more appealing to consumers.
There is already enough evidence to show that soyfoods can reduce the risk of heart disease to support health claims in the US and the UK (under its voluntary code).
"But what we know from consumer feedback is that many Australians don't like the taste of soy," said research group leader Professor Peter Howe.
"With this trial we are looking at testing a potential solution by developing and trialling more palatable food products that combine low fat dairy foods with soy to see if they have the same health benefits as straight soy foods."
Healthy people with mildly elevated cholesterol will be put on a planned diet eating dairy-based, soy-based or combination soy-dairy foods, crossing over to an alternate food diet at the end six-weeks and again after another six weeks.
"By the end of the trial we hope to be able to get a clearer idea of the impact of soy products and the bioavailability of the beneficial components of soy when delivered in combination with dairy ingredients," said Howe.
However soy consultant Gerard Klein Essink cautioned that such a food may be difficult to position.
"The off-taste of soy would be more significant in a dairy product whereas with soyfoods, consumers are expecting the food to taste differently to dairy," said Klein Essink.
He added that while in plain soymilks the taste of soy may still be a barrier to sales, European markets are increasingly seeing more flavoured soy-based milks and desserts, and these flavoured variants are driving the growth in the category. For these, soy 'beany' notes are not an issue.