What is Whey as an Ingredient in Food ? Its Uses and Advantages

What is Whey Protein?

Whey is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained Whey is a water soluble globular protein, from the basic protein family that can be folded into spherical shapes. Basically, is a mixture of globular protein which is extracted from whey, and the liquid material left is used as a by-product of cheese production.

It is also found in Milk as a Whey Protein other than casein. When a coagulant (usually renin) is added to the milk, the curds (casein) and the whey separates. Whey protein is the water-soluble part of milk.

Type of Whey or Whey is also known as whey, whey concentrate, whey isolate, whey hydrolysate, hydrolyzed whey.

Chemistry of Whey Protein –Details

Chemical Composition – Whey proteins consist of α-lactalbumin, β-lactoglobulin, serum albumin, immunoglobulins, and proteose-peptones.

  • This is the by-product produced during the curdling of milk.
  • Have an appropriate amino acid composition for growth and development of the young.
  • C47 H48 N3 O7 S2 Na is the chemical formula for Casein.
  • Casein is a solid.
  • It is flammable at high temperatures.

History & Origin of Whey

Whey was discovered accidentally around 6,000 B.C. when it naturally separated from sour goat’s milk. Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, prescribed whey in 446 BC to help boost his patients’ immune systems. It was 1,000 years later in Italy when it was developed into a liquid form. Still, its main use was as a health tonic. During the mid 1700s, a mountain village in Switzerland announced cases of whey healing the sick. Soon whey health spas were opened around Switzerland, Austria and Germany, catering to aristocrats and royalty.

Modern research has strived to develop and maintain the health benefits of whey. Due to the chemical production process of making whey powder, some of these benefits are lost. However, it has been discovered whey can help with weight loss and burning fat.

Industrial Production of Whey

Whey is one of two major proteins found in milk. It is a byproduct of the cheese making process when enzymes are added to the milk, causing it to separate into curds and whey – the liquid portion. Whey is then pasteurized and dried into powder for commercial use.

There are two methods for commercial production of whey powder. One is microfiltration, in which filters strain the whey. The other uses an ion exchange, where the protein is placed in an ion exchange tower and undergoes a chemical purification process from hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide. This is the cheaper and most common method of the two, but it does cause damage to some of the whey amino acids.

Use and Application of Whey

  • Soak grain in acid whey for making breads.
  • Feed acid whey to animals. They may like sweet whey better, than acid whey. Whichever kind you feed them, be careful, because it can upset their digestion if they consume too much.
  • Use whey on the skin and hair. Some people claim that whey has excellent toning qualities for the skin and hair.
  • Try some on a cotton ball and apply to your face as a toning agent or add a few cups to bathwater.
  • Reconstitute fruit juice to add nutritional value.
  • Use it as a starter culture when fermenting vegetables.
  • Make whey lemonade.
  • Add it to smoothiesand shakes to provide more vitamins, minerals, and proteins.
  • Use as cooking liquid for potatoes, rice, grits, pasta, and grains.
  • Drink it straight!
  • Make whey cheeses.
  • Make lacto-fermented drinks such as ginger aleand limeades.
  • Put it in your compost pile. It adds nutrients and makes thick, black compost.

Advantages of the Whey Protein

Whey is used as a protein supplement. It is very useful for hitting targeted daily protein goals. Whey is absorbed faster than other forms of protein, which means it also increases muscle protein synthesis used to break a fasted state.

Disadvantages of Excessive Whey Protein

Whey also delivers a large amount of the amino acid L-cysteine, which can alleviate deficiencies that occur during aging and diabetes, as well as other conditions. While whey has also been claimed to increase fat loss, this is a function of protein, rather than the whey itself. This means that the whey itself does not reduce fat, but taking in more protein often aids with fat loss efforts.

Whey does not harm the liver or kidneys, but it can exacerbate pre-existing damage. People with damaged livers or kidneys should exercise caution when increasing protein intake quickly without the guidance of a doctor.

FDA Regulation on Whey

Whey protein concentrate is deemed GRAS by the FDA. It must be labeled when used and have at least 25 percent protein, 1 to 10 percent fat content, 2 to 15 percent ash content, 1 to 6 percent moisture content and no more than 60 percent lactose content.

Whey protein isolate does not have a GRAS ruling from the FDA, but the agency has issued a non-object letter to industry regulation and production.

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