Soy is one of the world’s largest and most important food crops. Because of their complete amino acid profile, soybeans can provide as much protein as meat, milk and other animal foods. Ounce for ounce, soybeans provide more protein than beef, more calcium than milk and more lecithin than eggs. Because 35 to 38 percent of the calories in soybeans are derived from protein, the World Health Organization has assigned soy foods the highest possible score for protein content.
Soybeans are rich n chemical compounds called phytochemicals, which may help prevent disease and promote overall health and wellness. Two particular phytochemicals in soybeans – dadzein and genistein – are powerful antioxidants. Other phytochemicals in soy can help lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, protect against cancer and provide support for healthy immune function. Soy foods are also excellent sources of potassium, zinc and most B vitamins.
While soybeans have an outstanding nutritional profile, few people would just sit down and eat a bowl of freshly picked soybeans. Soybeans are almost always served cooked, and most of the soy foods that people eat today require a considerable amount of processing. The following are some popular soy foods:
Soy milk is made by grinding soybeans and mixing them with water. Many flavors and types of soy milk are readily available. Because it can be used in many of the same ways as dairy milk, soy milk has become a popular alternative to dairy products in the United States.
Tofu is a brick of soy curd made by pureeing cooked soybeans and forming them into white custard-like cakes. Tofu has little flavor of its own and can be a used in a multitude of other dishes. Tofu is available in silken, soft and firm textures. Silken tofu can be used to make smoothies and sauces, and firm tofu works well in stir-fries.
Natto is a somewhat stinky fermented soy food made by incubating cooked soybeans in straw. The straw contains the bacterium Bacillus natto, which aids in the fermentation process. Natto is eaten as a breakfast food in parts of Japan, and recent studies have shown that natto offers important cardioprotective qualities. In the United States, natto is usually available from Asian specialty grocers.
Tempeh is made by pressing cooked whole soybeans into a dense cake that can be cut into pieces and used in various recipes. Because of its rich flavor and chewy texture, tempeh is an excellent meat substitute for vegetarians.
Miso is a fermented soybean paste that can be used to flavor soups and a variety of other dishes.
Widely used in Asian cooking, soy sauce is a fermented blend of cooked soybeans, grain and salty brine.
Soy Protein Powder
Soy is available in a wide range of protein powder supplements that can be used to make smoothies and other tasty beverages. These protein powders are a cost-effective way to add soy protein to your diet.
USANA SoyaMax provides all the benefits of soy protein in a convenient drink powder that can be added to cereals, baked goods, soups, and sauces to fortify protein content.