In case you missed the hoopla, April is National Soyfoods Month. Considering the amount and variety of products made from this versatile legume, it’s about time that recognition is bestowed upon the humble soybean.
In tough economic times, grocery shoppers want the biggest bang for their buck, and soy foods fit the bill. Fresh, canned, dried or frozen .. soybeans can be used in everything from soups, stews, casseroles and salads, to pasta sauces, Asian and Mexican dishes. Soybeans are an excellent substitute for meat and easily morph into almost any type and texture of food. Tofu is probably the most well-known soy food product, but it has to share grocery store shelf space with hundreds of other remarkable and nutritious products.
Soy Health Benefits
A food staple in Asia for thousands of years, soybeans contain all of the essential amino acids needed for human nutrition, while providing high-quality protein, no cholesterol, a good source of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, including some Omega 3s. Many soy foods also contain isoflavones, which may help lower risks for some diseases in many individuals. Soybeans are also low in saturated fat and high in fiber.
The American Heart Association has recognized soy as an important component in a heart-healthy diet.
“Soy foods generally contain significant amounts of key nutrients that Americans are advised to consume more of, and are low in nutrients that Americans should avoid,” said Julie Obbagy, a registered dietitian and vice president of scientific affairs for the Soyfood Association of North America. “For example, fortified soymilk, which is the most popular soy product consumed by Americans, is a high source of calcium and vitamin D, a good source of vitamin A, and also provides high-quality protein, iron, and potassium,”she continued.
Soy has also been attributed to helping lower cholesterol, improve menopausal hot flashes and prevent age-related bone loss and fractures. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a health claim stating that soy protein may help reduce the risk of heart disease. One study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found a 14 percent reduction in breast cancer among women with a high soy intake.
But can something that is so beneficial for you actually taste good? Clearly, what was once a vegetarian staple has gained mainstream acceptance that can tempt the taste buds while balancing the food budget and providing medicinal qualities. There are hundreds of different products on the market with amazing tastes and textures, ranging from meat-free burgers, hot dogs and chicken to dairy-free cheeses, frozen desserts, pasta, sauces, and cereals.
Soy foods are a key part of a healthy heart diet and can help consumers maintain a healthy weight. Soy products fit into nearly every category of the United State Department of Agriculture’s recommendations including the milk, vegetables, meat and beans, grain products and oils sections.
During April, several manufacturers of soy foods are offering coupons and discounts on a variety of tasty products to help ease the stress on grocery budgets and introduce new consumers to the joy of soy. To learn more, visit the Soyfoods Association of North America.
Strawberry Soy Smoothie
1 cup vanilla soymilk
1 cup soft silken tofu (about 6-ounces)
1 box (10-ounces) frozen strawberries
½ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
Place all ingredients in blender and mix on high until thoroughly blended and mixture is smooth and creamy. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional information per 1 cup serving: 110 calories, 2.5g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 40mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, 14g sugars, 4g protein.