Soybeans are a complete protein source and provide more protein than any other legume. Because of their bland flavor and high nutrient content, soybeans can be made into many different nutritious foods.
In addition to being low in saturated fat and containing high-quality protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals such as calcium and iron, soybeans provide an abundance of phytochemical. The American Heart Association recommends adding soy to the daily diet to reduce high cholesterol.
Soybeans have been part of the Asian diet since ancient times. In China, the soybean is a healing food. Lately however, this miracle food has come under attack , but reports can be confusing.
According to some health experts, soybeans can be harmful as they contain phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens can mimic the body’s natural estrogen hormones. For men, this can lead to a testosterone imbalance, infertility, low sperm count, and increased risk of cancers. For women, it can cause estrogen dominance, which has been linked to infertility, menstrual troubles and cancer. The goitrogens in soy are potent anti-thyroid compounds that can lead to endocrine disruption and thyroid disorders.
It is easy to add soy to your diet. Choosing fermented soy products like miso and tempeh, and natto are safer choices than those that may have been genetically modified. These would include tofu, soy ice cream, cheese, yoghurt and frozen desserts.
Miso is produced when soybeans and a grain, (usually rice or barley) are combined with salt and a mold culture, then fermented. Miso can be used to season and enrich all types of soups, salad dressings and dips. To benefit from the live culture and digestive enzymes, make sure to buy the unpasteurized form of miso.
Tempeh is cooked soybeans blended with rice or grains. This mixture is fermented for 24 hrs. to form a dense chewy cake. Tempeh is much higher in fiber than most other soy-based products because it is made from the whole bean. It picks up the flavor from whatever it is seasoned or cooked with.
Natto is also made from fermented, cooked whole soy beans that are mixed with a bacteria culture and aged in plastic bags. Natto can be used over rice, in miso soups, and with vegetables.
Adding soy to your diet can be a healthy plant based alternative. Some suggestions include edamame pods as snacks or appetizers, roasted soy nuts, soymilk puddings, tofu burgers or stir frys, in addition to the above healthier alternatives like tempeh and miso. It is always best to choose whole soy foods and minimize processed options.