Savoring Soy

soy beans

Soy, a member of the pea family, is a subtropical plant that originated in Southeast Asian. For at least 5,000 years it has been a dietary staple in Asian countries. In the 1700 and 1800s soy spread to Europe and America. Now half of all soybean production takes place in the Midwestern United States. (Mayo Clinic)

In recent years soy has been credited with many health benefits ranging from cardiovascular health to weight loss and menopause relief.  These claims were made on preliminary evidence however, actual evidence is week and more research is necessary.

There is no evidence that pills containing isoflavones extracted from soybeans offer benefits, and some studies raise concerns about harmful side effects.

What we know for sure:

  • Soy is a great source of protein. It includes all the essential amino acids.
  • Soy is healthier than other protein sources, like red meat, as it is low in saturated fat = good for our heart and  blood vessels.
  • Soy contains polyunsaturated fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which our bodies need.
  • Some people are allergic to soy. Listen to your body, be aware of soy’s affect on you.
  • Be mindful of your portions. If, like me, you have grown up in a culture where it is traditional to eat soy daily, it is fine to continue. If you have not, the The Nutrition Source website at Harvard School of Public Health recommends that two to four servings a week of soy is a good target. More than this does not appear to offer any special boost to our health, and researchers are not sure if higher intakes can be harmful.
  • Soy is just one of many protein sources, eating a variety of proteins is important, especially for vegetarians.

Common Sources of Soy: roasted soybean, green soybean, tempeh, tofu, soy flour, miso, soy butter, soy ice cream, soy milk, soy yogurt, soy cheese, soy noodles, bean curd, and seitan,.

Craving a serving of soy? Here are 26 easy tofu recipes from the Savvy Vegetarian.