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Getting More Soy in Your Diet

Vegetarians looking for meat substitutes, women interested in eating plant sources of estrogens that may help dampen the metabolic changes that occur during menopause, and others wanting to reduce the fat and cholesterol in their diets are turning more and more to soybean products. Fortunately, the marketplace is ready; a walk down most grocery store's isles will reveal a variety of soy products. Or you can start with the raw bean and make your own soy treat. Below is just a sampling.

Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is a common condiment used in the kitchen or added at the table, and therefore is not consumed in large quantities. It is produced from fermented soybeans and comes in a variety of forms depending on other ingredients that are included in the sauce.
Soy Nuts
Whole soybeans can be turned into a peanut-like snack simply by soaking the beans and then roasting them. High in both protein and isoflavones, this easy to eat snack food could replace other pop in your mouth treats that are not as good for your health.
Soy Milk
This product can be found in the dairy case and is sought after by those who cannot tolerate milk because of an inability to properly digest lactose - a sugar found in milk. Depending on the method of industrial production, the drink does not contain the beany taste that you get if you try to produce this at home. As a plant product, soy milk contains no cholesterol.
Soy yogurt and cheese
Once soy milk was produced it wasn’t long before it was being used as an ingredient to produce substitutes for other traditional dairy products. Cheese and yogurt made from soy are now easy to find. The level of fat in these products will vary depending upon whether the fat was extracted from the soy starting material.
Tofu is another product made from soy milk. In this case a coagulating agent has been added to produce the soft textured tofu. Firm tofu has a lower water content and therefore is more nutrient dense. It is most often shaped into bricks or flat cubes. Like all soy products, tofu is high in protein and B vitamins.
Soy protein
Soy flakes are used to produce soy protein concentrate and isolated soy protein. Protein concentrate contains no fat, is high in fiber, and contains about 70% protein. Special refining and milling procedures are used to produce isolated soy protein. This powder can contain over 90% protein. Both protein isolate and soy concentrate are used in recipes as a replacement for other grain flours.

People who are eating soy products to increase their intake of isoflavones - genistein in particular, should remember that not all soy products contain the same amount of genistein. Fermented products appear to be better sources of genistein because of bacterial action that releases genistein from other less available forms. The Japanese eat far more soy products than do people eating a 'western' style diet, and this may be the reason for the differences in the incidences of various diseases between the two populations. Whether this is strictly true or not, more and more people are adding soy products to their diet.

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