Soy is a subtropical plant in the pea family and is a very common food source in Asian diets. The seeds of this plant are “high in protein” legumes known as soybeans or edamame.
Soybean protein is a healthy diet substitute for animal protein, because it offers your body a “complete” protein with less saturated fat. Complete proteins contain all the amino acids essential for healthy nutrition.
Dietary sources of soybeans come in various forms, including:
Fermentation techniques prepares the soy to be in a more easily digestible forms, such as:
Today, the most common diet food sources of soy protein are:
- Tofu ~ cooked soybeans processed into a custard-like firm, soft or silken textured cake, having a neutral flavor it can be used in stir-fries, mixed into smoothies, used in dips or as a cheese substitute.
- Soymilk ~ ground soybeans and water forming a milk-like liquid, which can be consumed as is or a recipe substitute for milk, sometimes fortified with calcium, comes in a variety of flavors, good dairy product replacement for lactose intolerance.
- Soy flour ~ ground roasted soybeans adds protein to baked goods, in cereals, pancake mixes, frozen desserts, etc.
- Textured soy protein ~ defatted soy flour, which is compressed and dehydrated, used as a meat substitute or as filler in dishes.
- Tempeh ~ whole, cooked, fermented soybeans formed into a chewy cake, used as a meat substitute.
- Miso ~ fermented soybean paste used for seasoning and soup stock.
Soy is considered safe for most people when consumed as part of a healthy diet in its natural soybean food form. In some, these legumes have been reported to cause food allergy reactions (rarely) or minor stomach and bowel problems, such as:
Edamame are young green soybeans, that taste sweeter and have a nuttier flavor than the matured soybean legumes. Although mature soybeans contain a higher amount of protein and other healthy nutrients, edamame may taste to you a whole lot better!