Schools that substitute soy protein for beef, pork and turkey appear to make the grade when it comes to students' health, results of a study suggest. According to researchers from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina, reducing the meat-based portion of school lunches by 30% and adding a soy protein reduced the amount of calories, fat and saturated fat students consumed.
The researchers reduced the meat content and added soy protein to 132 different lunch selections--including Sloppy Joes, lasagna, pizza, and tuna and ham salad--in elementary schools.
The average number of calories and grams of fat declined the most in the pork, beef and turkey lunches. Grams of saturated fat were reduced the most in beef and pork lunches. Cholesterol fell by an average of 9 to 15 milligrams in all lunches while amounts of protein remained almost the same.
The US Department of Agriculture, which oversees the federal school lunch program, limited soy protein substitution at 30% for entrees at the time of the study. New regulations allow schools to include entrees that consist entirely of soy protein.
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