Soybeans and soy ingredients continue to grow in popularity and are a common item in the refrigerator and pantry of meat-eaters as well. In the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), soy made a few cameos. Being a milk alternative, fortified soymilk was listed with the dairy group and touted as a source of calcium. Soy also was listed among protein foods, along with nuts and seeds, and was recognized not only for providing protein, but also selenium, polyunsaturated fatty acids, fiber, magnesium and zinc. The DGAs recommend consuming 8 oz. equivalent per week of soy products for a 2,000-calorie diet and fortified soy beverages and soy products as part of a healthy eating pattern. To meet those recommendations, let’s explore five soy-rich food and beverage sources.
Edamame isn’t just packed with protein. It also contains a substantial amount of fiber. In only ¼ cup of edamame, there are 8 g of fiber, which is one-fifth of the daily recommendation of fiber for men and almost one-third of the daily recommendation of fiber for women. Edamame also contains iron and the phytoestrogen isoflavone, which may serve as a protective factor against breast and prostate cancers, as well as osteoporosis.
Soy Milk & Yogurt
In one 8 oz. glass of soy milk, you’ll find important vitamins and nutrients such as vitamin B-6, magnesium, calcium, iron and potassium. There are also 8 g of protein and only 0.5 g of saturated fat. Soy yogurt is another product with great nutritional benefits. With its low fat and high protein and calcium content in a 6 oz. container, soy yogurt can be a great option for breakfast or snacks.
Tempeh originated from Indonesia and has made its way to the U.S. It can be described as a fermented soybean cake, and you can use a variety of spices and herbs to obtain the flavor you are looking for. A 3 oz. serving of tempeh contains almost 16 g of protein and less than 2 g of saturated fat. Tempeh also contains iron and calcium. Feel free to use this plant-based protein as the main protein source in any meal.
Soy nuts are a versatile food that can be eaten as a snack or added to foods such as salads or chicken. A low-calorie snack or addition to your favorite meal, soy nuts contain only 194 calories for ¼ cup and are packed with 17 g of protein and almost 4 g of fiber. Being a well-rounded choice, they also contain calcium, iron and B vitamins.
Soy Protein Bars
Protein bars containing soy are plentiful these days and are typically low in calories. Many of them also contain a good amount of fiber. It’s a win-win.
Soy food and beverages are protein-rich options with a number of health benefits. The next time you are looking for a snack or a meal, don’t just think of soy as a meat alternative, but also as a flavorful, healthful choice.