Soy – that’s the way to eat it

Here is how the humble but very useful soy bean should be eaten to maximise its benefits:-

  1. Eat soy the Asian Way, as tofu, miso, tempeh, edamame, bean sprouts and soy sauce. The latter two are familiar to many and can easily be incorporated into the diet. Edamame (boiled young soy beans in the pod) are becoming popular so are easier to find, especially in Asian food stores, as well as being quick to prepare and delicious.
  2. Eat small amounts regularly. Fifty grams tofu per person, a mug or two of miso soup, a small handful of edamames or bean sprouts or a regular sprinkling of soy sauce every day, and you’re there.
  3. Use tofu as a healthy meat alternative. Combined with rice, tofu is as nutritious as meat and far healthier. Find 2-3 good tofu recipes and make a couple of veggie dinners per week.
  4. Buy only organic soy. Soy is one of the most genetically modified crops on earth, and the most pesticide-contaminated. Its unchecked cultivation also contributes heavily to soil erosion and global warming. Organic soy is grown with ecological consideration and is never genetically modified.
  5. Minimise processed soy foods. Highly processed foods, including those marketed as healthy, should not be high on the agenda of anyone interested in healthy eating. Soy-based products (e.g. veggie burgers and sausages, TVP, soy milks, drinks and yoghurts) are no exception. If you use soy products as an alternative to dairy, do so on an occasional rather than regular basis.
  6. Avoid soy derivatives, such as soy protein isolate, hydrolysed soy protein and soy-based powders and shakes. Lecithin is the only soy derivative with real nutritional and therapeutic value.
  7. Avoid soy supplements, such as concentrated soy isoflavones or phytoestrogens (commonly sold as menopause symptom relievers). They do not achieve the same effect as whole soy foods, and may even cause unfavourable hormonal reactions.
  8. Avoid soy if you have known thyroid problems or a known allergy to soy, or if you feel unwell after eating soy.
  9. Have babies? Don’t give them soy formula as an alternative to dairy formula. It is not a balanced substitute to mother’s milk and should not be relied on to provide a growing baby’s needs. From 6 months onwards you can feed babies a bit of plain silken tofu (a softer, smoother variety). Self-feeding young children can be served small cubes of plain tofu (25g per day) for good protein.
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