There are many different ways to eat soy, and including soy in your diet does have health benefits. Soy is a versatile bean containing high quality protein including essential amino acids we typically get from eating meat. Soy also contains beneficial B vitamins, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. Eating soy has been shown to help lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, and consuming 25 grams per day may help reduce heart disease. Since soy is a high quality protein it is a healthy alternative to meats that contain saturated fat and cholesterol. Soy comes in many forms; below are some different ways to include soy in your diet.
1. Soy Milk
Soy milk is made from soybeans and is very similar to cow’s milk. Soy milk is high in protein, calcium, essential nutrients, and omega-3 fatty acids. Commercial soy milk (such as Silk) is typically sweetened and/or flavored. Soy milk can be used to make shakes and smoothies by adding yogurt and fruit.
Tofu is a soft (sometimes firm) food made with coagulated soy milk that’s bought in blocks (as with cheese). Although tofu has very little flavor on its own, it easily takes on the flavor of food or seasonings it’s cooked with. Tofu is a healthy alternative to meats since it’s commonly prepared, seasoned, and marinated much the same way as poultry or other meats--but without the saturated fat and cholesterol.
Miso is typically made with soybeans and may also include rice, wheat, barley, rye, or other ingredients. Miso is a paste-like substance used for spreads, sauces and commonly miso soup.
Commonly used in vegetarian cuisine, tempeh is made from whole soybeans; retaining the whole bean gives tempeh a high nutritional value. Tempeh is high in fiber, protein, and essential vitamins. Similarly to tofu tempeh can be used to replace meat; however it has a strong flavor and firm texture.
5. Veggie Burgers
A tasty way to add soy to your diet is by eating veggie burgers. Soy, vegetables, legumes, wheat, nuts, rice, and eggs are some common ingredients used in meatless veggie burgers. Although soy burgers don’t taste exactly hamburgers they do taste great and are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Edamame looks like peas in a pod; it’s baby soy beans picked green and served in their pods. The soybeans (and pods) are boiled and commonly served with salt. The pods typically aren’t eaten however.
7. Soy Protein Bars
A quick and easy way to increase your soy intake and get a boost of protein is through soy protein bars. Not only do they make great snacks, but they're easy to take with you when you’re on the go. Soy protein bars are high in protein, vitamins and minerals. They also make great pre- and post-workout snacks for a quick boost of energy.
8. Soy Yogurt
Try replacing regular yogurt with soy yogurt to increase your daily soy intake. Soy yogurt is high in protein, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals. Soy yogurt can also be blended with soy milk and fruit to make delicious smoothies.