April is National Soy Foods Month. If you’ve never tried soy, it’s a great time to explore this healthy and versatile food. Thankfully, our stores contain a wide variety of soy options.
What Are Soy Foods?
Soy is part of the legume family, along with beans, chickpeas, and peanuts. We typically enjoy soy as edamame, tofu, and soy milk. Soy protein is also popular in many vegetarian meat and dairy replacement options, like vegan burgers, hot dogs, and cheese. For those with allergies, soy butter is also a common replacement for peanut and other nut butters.
In our stores, you can find healthy soy foods in almost every aisle.
Soy Offers Significant Health Benefits
In addition to being versatile, soy foods are packed with nutrients. They are an important staple in many vegetarian and vegan diets, due to their high protein content. Soy is also a complete protein because it contains nine essential amino acids, just like animal-based proteins.
When you eat soy, you also benefit from nutrients like fiber, unsaturated fats, calcium, and iron. Because it is so nutrient-dense and protein-packed, soy should be part of your heart-healthy, bone-building diet.
Soy also contains bioactive plant compounds, including isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen. While phytoestrogen is similar to estrogen, they are not the same — and phytoestrogen is safe for both women and men to consume. Studies suggest that soy foods are also safe for breast cancer patients and survivors. In fact, soy foods have been found to alleviate the symptoms of menopause in some women and reduce certain cancer risks.
If you are concerned about eating soy, you can rest assured that soy foods, especially whole soy foods, are a healthy option for most people. Consuming 25 grams of soy protein per day can be part of a healthy, balanced diet. One cup of soy milk, three ounces of tofu, and 1/3 cup edamame each contain about eight grams of soy protein. Soy-based meat replacements and nutrition bars include an average of 15 grams.
However, if you have specific food allergies, intolerances, or medical conditions, you should always consult with your physician before making significant dietary changes.
Celebrate Soy Foods Month with Our Cherry Almond Muffin Recipe
While there are many excellent ways to enjoy soy, here is one that could be a breakfast, snack, or dessert: cherry almond muffins. In this recipe, soy flour, which is derived from ground soybeans, boosts protein and helps the muffins retain moisture. It also includes soy milk to pull all the ingredients together.
Cherry Almond Muffins
Source: NE Soybean Board
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup soy flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp almond extract
- 3/4 cup vanilla soy milk
- 3/4 cup (3.5 oz bag) dried cherries
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Cream sugar and margarine in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat well.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with almond extract and soy milk. Stir until combined.
- Fold in dried cherries. Pour batter into greased or paper-lined muffin pan. Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
This month and all year long, remember soy is a healthy food that can be incorporated into a variety of meals and snacks! How can you enjoy more soy and the many health benefits? For more soy-based recipes, please visit: http://www.soyfoods.org/enjoy-soy/recipes
Stephanie Edson - Regional Wellness Specialist
Stephanie is an award-winning registered dietitian who believes in empowering every individual to make nutritious food choices to support a healthy lifestyle. She believes in the power of food as medicine and loves sharing about nutrition with others.