Soy, Benefits of Soybeans
Soybeans are among the best sources of plant-based protein. One cup of boiled soybeans (172 g) contains around 29 grams of protein.
Soy, The Miracle Bean
A few years ago during my first pregnancy I discovered that I was intolerant to milk. That was not much of a drama as I never liked the flavour of milk anyway so it was a great relief to find that there were other drinks that I could take to substitute milk.
Soy milk or soy drinks, as they are forced by legislation to be called in Europe, were a healthy and tasty alternative and the fact that they come enriched with added calcium made it an ideal drink to substitute cows’ milk. After taking soy milk I also discovered that there were soy yogurts, desserts, and many other soy products like tofu made with this miracle bean.
So, what are soybeans?
The Soybean is considered a legume native to East Asia.
There are many varieties of soy beans. A soybean can be black, green or brown, but the most common is the small and very pale yellow bean
What are the Benefits of Soybeans?
- Soybeans contain isoflavones and other types of phytoestrogen considered by nutritionists to be useful to prevent cancer and to reduce undesirable menopausal side effects.
- Soybeans also contain a high level of phytic acid, which is believed to reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer.
- Soya has been shown to contain nutrients that have a positive effect on reducing cholesterol. Researchers in the College of Medicine at the University of Kentucky recently analyzed results from 43 previously published studies involving soy protein and risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). As a result, they found an overall decreased risk of CHD when approximately 30 grams of soy protein was consumed on a daily basis.
- For vegetarians, soy is an excellent source of protein and many essential vitamins and minerals.
- In 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized a health claim for soy protein as a nutrient that could reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Soybeans contain all three of the macro-nutrients required for good nutrition: complete protein, carbohydrate, and fat, as well as vitamins and minerals, including calcium, folic acid, and iron.
Some soy products traditionally consumed in the Asian diet are miso, tempeh, natto, soy sauce, and tofu.
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How Is The Soybean Used
Soybeans are a miracle crop. The soybean has a wide variety of uses from human consumption, to animal feeds and even industrial uses.
Soybeans can be consumed as beans in soups, curries or stews, or like groundnuts in purees, always requiring a long cooking time. Other traditional non-fermented uses of the soybean include soy milk and tofu.
The soy bean is also used after being fermented to prepare soy sauce, miso and natto among many other products.
Apart from the direct uses soybeans are also widely used in its different forms as an ingredient to many foods that we consume every day. For example:
- Did you know that at Baskin Robbins, over half of all ice creams offered contain soy?
- Or, that McDonald’s and Burger King have soy flour as one of the main ingredients for their buns and also add soy protein to their hamburgers?
The use of soy is so extensive that it is believed that nearly all bread products available in the US now contain soy.
The Best way to Consume Soy for its Health Benefits
When including soybeans into your diet, try to stick with the whole food forms, and also consider giving preference to fermented versions like tempeh, fermented tofu, and soy miso.
Processed soy products are very different from the soybeans' whole food form. To make sure that you are consuming the best soy foods to fully benefit from its qualities you are better making your own soy milk and tofu. As you can see in the video included bellow, a full-fat soy milk, can be made by simply cooking whole soybeans in water and using a cloth to strain the soymilk (liquid) from the fibrous part of the cooked beans.
Making Soy Milk at home
Since genetically modified (GM) soybeans have reached 90% market penetration in the United States select organically grown soy products to avoid GMO.
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Where is Soy Produced
Soybeans are an importantly global crop, providing oil and protein. In the United States, the bulk of the harvest makes possible the raising of farm animals on an industrial scale. A very small proportion of the crop is consumed directly by humans. Soybean products appear in a large variety of processed foods like oil, milk, tofu, instant formula, etc.
The main producers of soy are the United States (32%), followed by Brazil (28%), Argentina (21%), China (7%) and India (4%).
In Europe, France produces 20% of the EU’s output.
Soybean Harvest 2012
25 to 30 Grams of Soy Protein Per Day May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially recognized the cholesterol-lowering effects of soy protein in 1999 with a health claim stating that 25 grams of soy protein per day may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Studies on soy and breast cancer survival suggest that soy in sufficient amounts may improve survival in women diagnosed with breast cancer.
Amazing Facts About Soy
- The soybeans can undergo desiccation and yet survive and revive after water absorption.
- Raw soybeans are toxic to humans. For human consumption, soybeans must be cooked with "wet" heat.
- Soybeans are the second most valuable agricultural export in the United States behind corn.
- Only a small percentage of soybean production is used for direct human consumption. The bulk of the soybean crop is grown for oil production, with the high-protein defatted and "toasted" soy meal used as livestock feed.
- At the present time, there is no GM seed in France and soybeans are mainly cultivated under irrigation in the South-West of France.
How Much Soy Should You Eat
According to the NSRL (National Soybean Research Laboratory),healthy adults who want to get the greatest benefit from eating soy should try to get about 15 grams of soy protein a day (with a range of 10-25 g) and about 50 milligrams of naturally occurring isoflavones (with a range of 30-100 mg). That’s about two servings a day.
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