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Dietary Protein Quality and HealthWise Nutrition Products

Obesity is one of the pressing global public health concerns. It is commonly associated with several co-morbidities and can be treated effectively with a high protein, low fat and low carbohydrate diet for successful body weight loss and maintenance. It is extremely important to ensure the quality of protein used in a calorically restricted diet will provide the necessary amino acids to maintain muscle mass and overall health in subjects. The quality of the protein in such diets is typically defined by its ability to achieve defined metabolic actions1. Conventionally, the protein quality has been associated with the composition of amino acids to satisfy the demands for synthesis of protein as measured by nitrogen balance in humans. The understanding of protein\’s actions has expanded beyond its role in maintaining body protein mass into increasingly complex roles for protein and amino acids in regulation of body composition and bone health, gastrointestinal function and bacterial flora, glucose homeostasis, cell signaling, and satiety1.


Protein Quality Assessment

In 1991, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) introduced the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) which is the internationally approved and recognized method for protein quality assessment2. Briefly, PDCAAS is based on the combination of an age-related amino acid reference pattern that is representative of human requirements plus estimates of the digestibility of the protein3. The amount of potentially limiting amino acids in the test protein is compared with their respective content in the appropriate reference pattern, identifying the single most limiting amino acid that determines the amino acid score. The current consensus is that meeting the minimum requirements for lysine, methionine, and tryptophan, the most limiting amino acids in poor quality proteins, determines the amino acid score which is then corrected for digestibility giving the PDCAAS value, which is assumed to predict net protein utilization3. The PDCAAS method has now been in use for over 25 years4. Basically, the PDCAAS value is derived as the amino acid score which is multiplied by the percent digestibility.


Quality of Selected Protein Sources Used in HealthWise Products

Protein Sources (Used in HW Products) PDCAAS Branched Chain Amino Acid %
Milk Protein Isolate 1.00 20
Whey Protein Concentrate 1.00 22
Egg White 1.00 21
Soy Protein Isolate 1.00 18
Calcium Caseinate 0.91 19
Pea Protein Isolate 0.36 18


HealthWise products are typically designed with 15g protein per serving (30% DV) with different combinations of protein sources based on how they influence the product attributes including taste, texture, functionality and mouthfeel. At HealthWise, we follow strict quality guidelines to ensure our products are produced with the highest quality protein possible. Our products are designed to maintain a balance of essential amino acids to ensure complete bio-availability. For instance, products that contain protein with PDCAAS <1.0 are typically combined with other sources of complete protein to obtain the desirable amino acid composition to ensure optimal nutritional benefit.

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1 Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S., Lemmens, S. G., & Westerterp, K. R. (2012). Dietary protein–its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and health. British journal of nutrition, 108(S2), S105-S112.

FAO/WHO. Protein Quality evaluation in human diets. Food and Agriculture Organization, Food and Nutrition paper 51. Rome, Italy: FAO/WHO, 1991:35-6.

3 Millward, D. J., Layman, D. K., Tomé, D., & Schaafsma, G. (20 08). Protein quality assessment: impact of expanding understanding of protein and amino acid needs for optimal health. The American journal of clinical nutrition87(5), 1576S-1581S.

4 Boye, J., Wijesinha-Bettoni, R., & Burlingame, B. (2012). Protein quality evaluation twenty years after the introduction of the protein digestibility corrected amino acid score method. British Journal of Nutrition108(S2), S183-S211.