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The Mighty Soybean
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Photo: Igor Spanholi
For 5,000 years the people of Asia have known something Western nations are just beginning to discover—the soybean is an amazing food! This lowly bean is packed with nutrition, is inexpensive, is easy to cook, and can be prepared in a huge variety of ways.

Here are some exciting facts about this mighty bean: High in fiber, packed with protein, the soybean is also very low in carbohydrates.

Important vitamins and minerals, like calcium, magnesium, riboflavin, thiamine, and iron are present in abundance in the soybean.

Soybeans have been shown to lower LDL, the bad cholesterol in your blood, and help prevent heart disease. This may be part of the reason Asians tend to have fewer heart problems than people in the rest of the world.

  • People who eat soybeans instead of meat may have stronger bones because less calcium is lost.
  • Soy provides the only complete protein in the vegetable family.
There are three forms of soybeans: Green: Also called edamame, these fresh, immature soybeans have a sweet, mild flavor. Sold in and out of the pod, they are great over salads or in soup or rice dishes. Yellow: Sold dried or canned, they come in either yellow or white. The dried ones need to be soaked before cooking. Black: Harder to find, but worth the search, these beans are milder in flavor than the yellow ones and are easier to digest.

Soybeans are easy to prepare and can be served in all sorts of neat ways.

Here are some easy ideas to try:

  • Mix them into seasoned cooked rice.

  • Throw a handful of green ones into a salad.

  • Add them to your favorite chili recipe.

  • Add them to your favorite canned soup.

  • Toss some into stir-fry.

  • Use soymilk instead of regular milk on your cereal or granola.

  • Soybeans can be made to mimic other protein sources. You can buy soy hot dogs; soy sandwich meats like chicken, turkey, beef, and ham; and soy hamburgers. These meat substitutes are, as my father says, “delicious, nutritious, and they even taste good!”
Other varieties of soy products you can find in stores are:

Tofu: Made from soymilk curds, tofu is shaped into cakes and can be used in soups, made into a spread, or substituted for cheese or meat in your favorite sandwich.

Soy sauce: Made from fermented soybeans and flour, soy sauce adds a salty flavor to food dishes.

Miso: Popular as a breakfast drink in Japan, miso is a high-protein paste that tastes similar to soy sauce.

Soybean sprouts: A terrific addition to salads or stir-fry, sprouts are a great source of vitamins A, B, and C.

The soybean—tasty, nutritious, heart-healthy, and a great source of fiber. Who would have believed such a simple bean could be packed with so many good things? Add it to your diet today. You’ll be glad you did!

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By Richard G. Edison, PA-C. Reprinted with permission from Listen, December 2006. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.


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