Soyfoods are fascinating to explore and understand. Many of us that grew up in the Midwest, did not have the experience of eating soyfoods. And most people wrinkle up their nose when you mentions soyfoods and think tofu. If you explore the category of soyfoods, you will find it to be to much more than just tofu.
The Soyfoods Council was formed about 14 years ago by the Iowa Soybean Association to increase the awareness about soy protein used in foods. A logical question might be, why?
A little history: In 1999 the FDA gave soy protein a health claim that states, “If you consume 25 grams of soy protein/day, in the context of a healthy diet, it may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.” Coronary heart disease is the #1 killer of both men and women in Iowa and across the USA. This health claim prompted interest in soyfoods. Vegetarians and health fanatics have known about soy protein long before the health claim because soy protein is a complete protein (all the essential amino acids needed, equivalent to meat). The health claim got the attention of mainstream consumers as well as manufacturers of food.
5 additional health benefits:
- Protection against heart disease: Low in saturated fat, high in polyunsaturated fat, soy provides both omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids. This is considered ideal for reducing the risk of heart disease. Soy protein has a direct cholesterol-lowering effect which is why the FDA approved the health claim. Soybean isoflavones may directly improve the health of the arteries.
- Soyfoods Reduce Menopausal Symptoms: Hot flashes, which are experienced by 70% of North American women are the primary reasons for seeking treatment for menopausal symtoms. In a varieties of studies, soy isoflavones were able to reduce both the frequency and the severity of hot flashes.
- Soyfoods and Diabesity (syndrome to diabetes and obesity): People with diabetes have an increased risk of kidney and heart disease. Soy protein has been found to place less stress on the kidneys than animal protein. Because higher protein diets may aid in weight loss, soyfoods can play a role in fighting diabesity. Lower carbohydrate diets have shown to be effective in treating diabetes and helping to control blood glucose and insulin levels.
- Soy and Breast Cancer: The American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research have concluded that breast cancer patients can safely consume soyfoods. Research strongly suggest that girls who consume soyfoods during childhood and /or adolescence may reduce the risk of breast cancer later in life up to 50%. That is compelling information to start adding soy in a healthy diet for young girls.
- Soy and Prostate Cancer and Fertility: There is evidence in both animals and humans that isoflavones work in ways to stop prostate cancer from spreading to other tissues, lessen the side effects of radiation as well as inhibiting the development of prostate tumors. AND clinical evidence indicates that soyfoods do not impair fertility.
So know you know the many health benefits or the WHY’s for including Soyfoods, now let’s explore HOW to start adding soy into healthy lifestyles.
Simple Ideas for Soyfoods
- SOYMILK – Contains no lactose, comes in vanilla and plain flavors. Most soymilk is fortified with Vit. D and calcium. Perfect to enjoy with cereals and more.
- TOFU – Cut extra firm tofu into cubes to add favorite soup. Or blend with your best cream soup, like Butternut Squash or Cream of Broccoli. Turn tofu into a dip by blending with fresh herbs or seasonings and a little liquid (juice or broth, for example) or with mayonnaise. For a fruit dip, blend the tofu with orange juice and a little honey or brown sugar.
- Edamame (green soybean) – Add shelled edamame to your favorite vegetable soup. Toss some into green salads or stir into a combination bean salad. Buzz it in the blender to make a surprising spread or dip or for the basis of an impressive main dish soufflé. Stir into stir fry. Or just set out for snacking.
- Textured Soy Protein or Textured Vegetable Protein TSP/TVP ( same product) – TSP/TVP comes in a dry form, usually found with specialty flours. Think about adding to cookies…if the recipe calls for 3 cups of oatmeal, use 1 ½ cups TSP and 1 ½ cups of oatmeal. Making a graham cracker or coconut crust, add ¼ to 1/3 cup of TSP for extra crunch and protein.
- CANNED SOYBEANS – Use like you would other beans…soups, salads, dips etc.
- SOYNUTS and SOYNUT BUTTER – Soynuts come roasted and in a multitude of flavors – perfect for snacking. Sprinkle soynuts over salads, Thai dishes, or steamed vegetables or toss with pasta for a delightful crunch. Use soynut butter just like peanut butter.
- SOY FLOUR – You can add extra protein to almost any baked good. For every cup of flour, replace ¼ to 1/3 cup with soy flour. Soy flour also helps baked goods retain moisture too. Soy flour has no gluten, so you’ll find it on the ingredient list of many gluten free products.
Start adding Soyfoods to your healthy lifestyle today!
**Linda Funk is Executive Director of The Soyfoods Council and is a guest blogger for IALF. You can learn more about soy nutrition benefits, research, news, and recipes by visiting The Soyfoods Council at thesoyfoodscouncil.com.