Soy Protein: What Is It, Why We Need It And Best Food Sources
The Popularity of Soya Protein
Soy protein has gained much attention among health enthusiasts in recent years. This product plays an important role in health and disease prevention and makes a great addition to a healthy diet.
According to a recent study, individuals who lead a health-conscious lifestyle (who didn’t consume meat, but, ate fish or were vegetarians/vegans) were more inclined to use soy products than the average person. Overall, there is a high demand for soy protein and products made from it as people look to eat a healthier diet.
What Is Soy Protein?
Soy protein comes from soy beans. Soy beans are dehulled and defatted to make three different kinds of products:
- Soy Flour
- Soy Concentrates
- Soy Isolates
Soy protein is very nutritious, and it has very little fat, no cholsterol, and it is high in fiber and protein. It has been used regularly to create various food products as substitutes for high fat dishes, including:
- Soy bacon
- Soy cheese
- Various meat alternatives, such as, soy burgers and hot dogs
- Soy ice cream
Health Benefits of Soy Protein
1. Soy protein is a good source of heart-friendly Omega 3 fatty acids, therefore, incorporating soy protein into your diet can help prevent heart disease.
2. Soy protein is a great substitute for traditional protein sources, such as, meat as it contains much less fat, but, still provides useful amino acids just like meat.
Amino acids play an important role in maintaining muscles and reducing fat in the body and also aid in the formation of insulin. So, if you want a healthy source of amino acids, it is best to choose soy protein foods instead of meat, which, is loaded with fat.
3. Soy protein is full of fiber that helps with digestive health, weight control, preventing high cholesterol, and regulating blood sugars
4. Soy protein is naturally cholesterol free.
Eating soy products can help you lower LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol by about 3%. Not a huge reduction, but, every little bit helps in the battle against cholesterol. Doctors suggest that even a 1% drop in cholesterol, reduces chances of heart disease by 2%, and soy protein can help.
5. Also, soy can help fill the gap for those that must limit their animal protein intake and cannot enjoy foods like burgers and hot dogs.
Best Food Sources For Soy Protein
To reap the benefits of soy protein, include these foods in your daily diet, eat less animal protein and substitute some of your favorite foods with soy products.
Edamame is served at Japanese sushi restaurants as appetizers and looks like peas in pods, though they are typically larger. They are rich in protein, fiber and have no cholesterol.
Usually they are served in the shell and inside is a sweet tasting bean, which, is the edible portion.
They can be used in recipes, as a vegetable side dish or simply enjoyed as a delicious and nutritious snack. They are usually prepared by being boiled in slightly salted water for 15 to 20 minutes.
Soybeans come in pods, and are similar to other legumes. They are an excellent source of fiber and protein. Most of the time they are yellow, but, they can also be brown or black.
They can be used in all types of recipes, including, soup, stew and chili. Also, whole soybeans can be soaked and roasted to make a wonderful healthy snack. There are also organic soybeans that are grown without any pesticides.
One of the most popular soy protein foods is Tofu, also referred to as, soybean curd. It is full of high quality protein, B vitamins and has very little sodium.
It is a soft and smooth soy product that is made by curdling fresh, hot soymilk with a coagulant.
It has a very mild flavor and is excellent at absorbing any type of marinades, and flavors, such as, spices. Many use Tofu in recipes to substitute meat.
Soymilk is prepared by soaking and grinding soybeans.
The plain and unfortified variety of soymilk is rich in high quality protein and B vitamins, but, it does not have calcium or vitamin D like the milk obtained from cows. But, you can buy soymilk that is fortified with those nutrients.
Supermarkets stock soymilk in non-refrigerated containers, and sometimes it can be found in the dairy case, it can also be purchased in powder form to mix with water. Soymilk contains no lactose, so it is perfect for those who are lactose intolerant.
Roasted soy nuts make terrific snacks and come in many flavors, they are rich in protein and isoflavones.
There are many meat alternatives that are made with soy protein or tofu. They are made as healthier versions of high in fat foods like, burgers, sausage, bacon and hot dogs.
While their counterparts are loaded with fat and cholesterol, the soy versions are not, and also are rich sources of iron, B vitamins and protein.
Tempeh is soybean product where whole soybeans are blended with other quality grains, like, millet or rice and are then fermented and pressed into bar form. It has a nutty flavor and can be sliced, flavored with various marinades and cooked on the grill or added to recipes to make healthy and delicious meals, such as, soups and chili.
Textured Soy Protein
Textured soy protein (TSP) is a wonderful source of quality protein (70%) and fiber. It is made from textured soy flour, spun soy fiber and soy protein concentrates. It is sold dried in two forms, chuck or granulated. Typically it is used as a meat extender, such as, for healthier meatloaf and burgers.
Foods To Swap With Soy Options
- Chicken with firm tofu
- Ground beef with soy protein
- Regular hot dogs with soy dogs
- Cow’s milk with soy milk
- Regular cheese that is high in fat and cholesterol with soy cheese
Butter with soy nut butter
- Beef chili with tofu chili or soybean chili
- Roasted soy nuts for chips
- And many more
Allergies And Digestion
Some people may have digestion problems with soy products while others can be allergic to it. Start slow to be sure that you can take it without issues.
And, remember that soy products should be just one part of well-balanced diet that includes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole-grains, dairy, seeds and beans.
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