Soy - Overview

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One of the recent national morning shows featured a cooking segment about the nutritional benefits of tofu.

“This will be great,” said the host of the show. “I’m trying to gel more soy into my diet.” “Well, then, this should work out really well,” replied the co-host. “You can have mine!”

This brief humorous interchange typifies the way many of us think about soy and tofu, in particular. We think we should eat more of it, though we may not be sure why, and some of us are convinced we want no part of it whatsoever.

Soy is a valuable addition to your diet and, even if you never dreamed you’d eat it and even if you never, ever want to cook tofu, there are other ways to incorporate soy foods into your daily diet.

Here is the good news in a nutshell: soy truly is a SuperFood. It offers tremendous health benefits when incorporated into your diet. It’s an inexpensive, high-quality, vitamin- and mineral-rich plant protein with lots of soluble fiber, plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, and, most important, it offers a wealth of disease-fighting phytonutrients. Indeed, soy is the richest known dietary source of powerful health-promoting phytoestrogens. Soy has been recognized by many researchers as playing a positive role in preventing cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis as well as helping to relieve menopausal and menstrual symptoms. More-over, you don’t have to eat tons of it to enjoy its considerable advantages. Once you learn about the proven benefits of soy and the simple ways you can incorporate this unique food into your diet, we think you’ll become a convert.

Soybeans have been cultivated in China since the eleventh century B.C. Indeed, the soybean is the most widely grown and utilized legume in the world. The Chinese name for the soybean is “greater bean,” and soy is also referred to as “meat without bones.” Like other beans, soybeans grow in pods, and while we most commonly think of them as green, they can also be yellow, black, or brown. The soybean was introduced to America in the eighteenth century by that innovative, forward-looking American Ben Franklin, who, impressed with tofu—the Chinese “cheese made from soybeans”—had some beans shipped from Paris to a group of farmers in Pennsylvania. It wasn’t until the next century that soybeans were extensively planted by American farmers. In the twentieth century, people began to recognize the health-promoting qualities of the soybean, and today, to many people’s surprise, the United States is the world’s largest commercial producer of soybeans.


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