Make room in your shopping cart for soy
March 31, 2022
By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
It’s April, which means it’s National Soyfoods Month. The best way to celebrate? Embracing all things soy!
Soy foods are wonderful meal and snack additions for so many reasons. For one, they’re complete plant proteins–meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids that your body isn’t able to produce on its own.
Also, regularly eating soy protein may be beneficial for cholesterol levels because it is a heart-healthy food, per research in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Now, let’s take a look at a handful of the soy foods you can pick up on your next grocery run:
When it comes to soy protein, straight-from-the-pod edamame is one of the most basic–yet satisfying–forms you can reach for. And it’s bursting with nutrients: In a cup of cooked edamame, you get 18 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber, –meaning it’s an excellent source of both satiating nutrients. Edamame is delicious boiled and slightly salted, or you can even blend frozen, shelled edamame into a protein-rich smoothie.
This soy protein boasts calcium in addition to protein–if you buy the type made with calcium sulfate. Per cup of tofu, you get 20 grams of protein as well as 868 milligrams of calcium. This makes it an excellent source of the bone-helping mineral. Tofu has a neutral taste, which means it absorbs the flavors of the ingredients it’s paired with. Add it to a stir-fry, blend it into a smoothie, or bake it into crispy tofu cubes. You’ll want to use soft tofu for smoothies and firm or extra-firm tofu for anything baked.
This plant protein is tofu’s fermented cousin. You’ll find varieties made with just soybeans and water, as well as ones prepared with grains such as brown rice, millet, and barley. Note that the type of tempeh made with grains is often not gluten free. Like tofu, tempeh absorbs the flavor of the sauces it’s cooked with. Per 3.5-ounce serving, you get 20 grams of protein. It’s delicious in anything from a stir-fry to even a sandwich.
If you prefer to drink your soy protein, soy milk may be your go to. It’s typically prepared by soaking soybeans in water overnight and then grinding those beans with water. One cup of unsweetened soy milk provides 8 grams of protein–as well as an excellent amount of calcium and a good amount of vitamin D, a nutrient important for both immunity and bone health Drink it on its own, add it to cereal, or blend it to a homemade smoothie.
In addition to these traditional soyfoods, you’ll also find soy protein in a variety of products—from burgers and nutritional bars to protein shakes and frozen desserts. Soy not only boosts nutrition, but it also improves the functionality of different foods on grocery store shelves.
Now, go get cooking! By the way, if you’re worried about soy foods and allergies, research shows you may not need to be so concerned. A study in Nutrition Today found that the prevalence of soybean allergies is lower than that of the other top seven allergens: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and wheat.
Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is an inclusive plant-based registered dietitian nutritionist in Stamford, CT and owner of Master the Media. You can connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok.