By Celeste Elliot for the Havre Daily News
Although soybeans were introduced to the United States in the 1800s, many Americans think of soy as foreign. Surprising to most, the United States produces 60 percent of the world's soybeans. Soybean production in the United States now ranks third behind wheat and corn.
Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a claim for soy products: "25g of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease."
Other claims have been made for decreased risk of cancer and osteoporosis as well as reduction in symptoms of menopause. While many report cancer prevention related to soy consumption, a few warn that soy components in excess may stimulate breast cancer development. Some research also shows contradictory evidence regarding symptoms of menopause.
The best solution is to include soy foods as part of a meal plan and to use caution when considering soy supplements. Remember, dietary supplements are not regulated, and claims may be misleading. It is a good idea to be critical of nutrition information from mass media sources, especially the Internet. Not all health information sources are credible and reputable.
Today, soy products are seen on the shelves of nearly every grocery store. For some people, they are a replacement for high-fat, high-calorie foods. Many people visualize tofu when asked for their perspective on soy. (This is usually followed with a grimace.) Soy is also available as nuts, beans, flour and milk. Soy nuts with their similarities to peanuts are a conservative approach to including more soy in one's diet. It only takes a little soy to add health benefits and variety. It's a matter of discovering which soy product is right for you.
The following is a list of soy products and their soy protein content:
Soy nuts 1/3 c.
Whole cooked soybeans
Soy flour (whole grain)
Firm tofu 4 oz.
Regular, plain soy milk
There are many ways of including soy in one's diet. The following are quick and easy ideas for adding soy to your day:
Include soybeans in homemade soups or salads.
Add silk tofu and/or soymilk to your next batch of fruit smoothies.
Keep honey-roasted soy nuts at the office for an afternoon snack.
Use soy flour for baking. But note: As the soy content in a bread recipe increases, loaves may brown faster. So, bake at a slightly lower temperature or cover the loaves loosely with foil the last few minutes of baking. Soy flour with fat should be stored in the refrigerator. Up to one-eighth of the flour in yeast breads and one-quarter in quick breads can be replaced with soy flour.