SOY AND WOMEN’S HEALTH
Foods that are rich in soy protein may be very beneficial to your health. Many Asian cultures have made soy protein an important part of their diets; Americans are now beginning to join in. Why is soy good for you?
Soy protein is low in fat and is a good alternative to meat, poultry, and other animal-based products. It is a vegetable product that contains all the amino acids needed in the human diet.
Research has shown that foods that are high in soy protein are good for your heart. Soy helps to lower your cholesterol level; 25 grams of soy protein each day, as part of a low-fat diet, may reduce your risk of heart disease.
Soy may also reduce your risk of Osteoporosis, some cancers, and may reduce menopausal symptoms.
Where can soy protein be found?
Soymilk is a milky liquid produced from soybeans. It can be found in most supermarkets and comes in a variety of flavors. Most soymilks are calcium fortified and are a good source of calcium for people who are lactose intolerant.
Tempeh is made from whole cooked soybeans that are formed into a chewy cake. Some tempeh has added grains that give it a more dense texture. It can be used as a meat substitute and is great in a stir fry.
TEXTURED SOY PROTEIN
Textured soy protein is made from soy flour. It has the texture of ground beef and can be easily substituted in many favorite recipes like meatloaf and chili. It can also be used to “extend” meat and make it go a little further in a recipe. No one will know that it’s not meat!
Tofu is made from cooked, puréed soybeans and has a custard-like texture. It doesn’t have much flavor of its own but can be added to many other foods and absorbs flavors well. It can be stir-fried, blended into smoothies, or blended with avorings for a dip. Tofu is found in the produce section of most supermarkets.
You can buy many soy products that are already formed into meat alternatives. Many companies have prepared burgers, hot dogs, chicken patties and nuggets, sausages made out of textured soy protein, and sell them in most supermarkets in the frozen food section. Experiment! Try out some of these products; you may not be able to tell the difference.
Here are some facts about soy products:
Four ounces of firm tofu contains 13 grams of soy protein.
One soy “sausage” link provides 6 grams of soy protein.
One soy “burger” contains 10 to 12 grams of soy protein.
An 8-ounce glass of plain soymilk has 10 grams of soy protein.
One-half cup of tempeh has almost 20 grams of soy protein.
It is fairly easy to consume the recommended 25 grams of soy protein daily to help to reduce your risk of heart disease. There are many vegetarian cookbooks and websites that can give you some easy and very tasty recipes using soy products.
In order for a soy-based food to use the “heart healthy” claim, one serving of the food must:
- Have 6.25 grams of soy protein
- Be low fat - less than 3 grams
- Be low in saturated fat - less than 1 gram
- Be low in cholesterol - less than 20 milligrams
- Be low in sodium - less than 480 milligrams for individual foods, less than 720 milligrams for a main dish, and less than 960 milligrams if it’s considered a complete meal
Is soy safe? Soy protein is safe unless you have a soy allergy. There are many supplements on the market now that are causing some concern. Soy isoflavones, which are components of soy, are concentrated in supplements and are a weak form of estrogen that can affect your body. These soy isoflavones are used by some women to decrease menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.
Research has not been conclusive on these helpful properties for women yet. More is being conducted. Before taking any soy isoflavone supplement, check with your medical care provider. Your provider knows your medical history and can counsel you on what’s best for your body. The soy protein found in tempeh, soy milk, and tofu, that hasn’t been broken down, doesn’t contain such concentrated amounts of isoflavones and is safe to consume. Enjoy soy protein products; they are low in fat, healthy for your heart, and very tasty!