This delicious, slightly nutty flavoredlegume has been cultivated in China for over 3,000 years but the good news about the culinary versatility and exceptional health benefits is a relatively recent phenomenon in the West.
Different varieties of this truly amazing legume are available throughout the year.
This super legume is the most widely grown and utilized legume in the world and one of the most well researched, health-promoting foods available today.
Like many other beans, they grow in pods, featuring edible seeds.
While we most often think of them as being green, the seeds can also be yellow, brown or black.
As we've mentioned the Soy Bean is the most widely grown and utilized legume in the world, with the U.S. being responsible for more than 50% of the world's production of this important food.
Soy is one the most widely researched, health-promoting foods around.
This super beans' key benefits are related to their excellent protein content, their high levels of essential fatty acids, numerous vitamins and minerals, their isoflavones, and their fiber.
A Health-Promoting Meat Replacer
Soy Beans are high in protein quality
Just one cup provides 57.2% of the Daily Value (DV) for protein while less than 300 calories and only 2.2 grams of saturated fat.
Plus, the soy protein tends to lower cholesterol levels, while intake of protein from animal sources tends to raise them, since they also include saturated fat and cholesterol.
In addition to healthy protein, some of Soy Beans' nutritional high points include a good deal of well-absorbed iron: 49.1% of the DV for iron in that same cup of Soy Beans; plus 37.0% of the DV for Nature's relaxant, magnesium; and 41.2% of the DV for essential omega-3 fatty acids.
Soy Lowers Blood Pressure and Cholesterol in Men
Soy's beneficial effects have often been studied in women.
Now, a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition has investigated the effects of soy protein and soy isoflavones on blood pressure and cholesterol levels in 61 middle-aged men, at high risk of developing coronary heart disease.
The men consuming soy in their diet were found to have significant reductions in both diastolic and systolic blood pressure.
Not only was their total blood cholesterol significantly lower, but their levels of HDL (good) cholesterol significantly increased.
While the control group consuming the soy-free diet containing olive oil also experienced an increase in their HDL cholesterol levels, their blood pressure was not affected, nor did their levels of LDL (potentially harmful) cholesterol drop.
The researchers concluded that daily intake of at least 20 grams of soy protein including 80 mg of isoflavones for a minimum of 5 weeks would be effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease in high-risk, middle-aged men.
Beneficial Effects on Cholesterol Levels and Platelets
Soy protein has been found in recent years to be excellent for a number of different conditions, one of the most important ones being heart disease.
Soy protein has been shown in some studies to be able to lower total cholesterol levels by 30% and to lower LDL, or bad cholesterol, levels by as much as 35-40%.
In addition, Soy Beans also contain excellent amounts of fiber.
When eaten, the fiber in Soy Beans binds to fats and cholesterol in food, so less is absorbed.
Also, the fiber binds to bile salts and removes them from the body.
Since the liver gets rid of cholesterol by transforming it into bile salts, their removal by fiber forces the liver to use more cholesterol to form more bile salts, leading to lower cholesterol levels.
Soy protein has also been shown to reduce the stickiness of platelets, possibly because Soy Beans are a good source of the important essential fats called the omega-3 fatty acids.
When platelets get overly sticky, which happens often in atherosclerosis patients, they're more likely to clump together to form blood clots.
These blood clots can in turn lead to heart attacks or stroke.
Reducing the risk of these blood clots is just another way that these super beans can protect against these events.
Stabilize Blood Sugar at Healthy Levels
Another condition for which these super beans can be very beneficial is diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes.
The protein in these super legumes, and also in other beans, is excellent for diabetic patients, who tend to have problems with animal sources of protein.
The protein and fiber in Soy Beans can also prevent high blood sugar levels and help in keeping blood sugar levels under control.
Some diabetics even find that the effects of these super beans and other legumes on blood sugar are so profound that they need to monitor their new blood sugar levels and adjust their medications accordingly.
Of course, all of this should only be done under the supervision of a doctor.
Practical Tips: Protect your prostate health by making soy foods a staple part of your healthy way of eating.
Not a fan of tofu?
Soy milk is now an available options.
You can take packets of miso to work with you, just as you would any dehydrated soup mix.
Miso not only makes a delicious broth on its own, but can be sprinkled like seasoning over brown rice or any grain, soup, or sauteed vegetable to add great flavor.
Try a tofu burger for lunch.
Experiment with a few brands till you find one you really enjoy; some do a pretty reasonable job of mimicking the taste and texture of beef.
Soy nuts can also go with you to the office for a quick snack.
Promote Optimal Health
The fiber in Soy Beans also provides preventative therapy for several other conditions.
Fiber is able to bind to cancer-causing toxins and remove them from the body, so they can't damage colon cells.
High-fiber Soy Beans may be able to help reduce the risk of colon cancer.
As a matter of fact, in areas of the world where these super beans are eaten regularly, rates of colon cancer, as well as other cancers, including breast cancer, tend to be low.
A variety of soy foods commonly eaten in the Asian diet contain isoflavones including tofu, miso, soy milk, soy sauce, soy flour, green or dried soybeans, soybean sprouts and a fermented soy food called natto.
Almost 75% of the women reported eating miso soup daily, and of these 34% ate three or more cups of miso soup per day.
More than 45% reported eating soy foods other than miso daily.
The average intake of isoflavones among participants in this study was calculated to be about 700 times higher than that of Caucasians in the United States.
Tips for Preparing Soy Beans:
Before washing dried Soy Beans, spread them out on a dark colored plate or cooking surface to check for and remove small stones, debris or damaged beans.
After this process, place the legumes in a strainer and rinse them thoroughly under cool running water.
To shorten their cooking time and make them easier to digest, dried Soy Beans should be pre-soaked.
There are two basic methods for pre-soaking.
For each, start by placing the beans in a saucepan and adding two to three cups of water per cup.
The first method is to boil them for two minutes, take pan off the heat, cover and allow to stand for two hours.
The alternative method is to simply soak them in water for eight hours or overnight, placing pan in the refrigerator so they won't ferment.
Before cooking the beans, regardless of method, drain the soaking liquid and rinse them with clean water.
You can either cook them on the stove-top or use a pressure cooker.
For the stove-top, add three cups of fresh water or broth for each cup of dried beans.
The liquid should be about one to two inches above the top of the beans.
Bring them to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, partially covering the pot.
If any foam develops, simply skim it off during the simmering process.
Soy Beans generally take about one to one and one-half hours to become tender using this method.
They can also be cooked in a pressure cooker where they'll take about 40 minutes to prepare.
Regardless of the method, don't add any seasonings that are salty or acidic until after they've been cooked, because adding them earlier will make them tough and greatly increase the cooking time.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
Replace some of the wheat flour in your favorite baked goods recipe with Soy Bean flour and increase the protein content of your cookies, cakes, muffins and breads.
Our favorite way is to mix Soy Bean sprouts into salads or use as toppings for sandwiches instead of the nutritionally challenged iceberg lettuce.
Frozen edamame is simple to prepare and makes a great snack or appetizer.
Just add the bean pods to slightly salted water and boil for approximately 10 minutes.
Add these super beans to vegetable stews and soups.
Use soy milk in place of cow's milk as a beverage and cereal topper.
Allergic Reactions to Soy Beans
Although allergic reactions can occur to virtually any food, research studies on food allergy consistently report more problems with some foods than with others.
It turns out that these particular beans are one of the foods most commonly associated with allergic reactions.
Soy Beans and Oxalates
These super beans are among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates, naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings.
When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems.
For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating them.
Soy Beans and Goitrogens
These super legumes contain thiocyanates and isoflavones which are known as goitrogens, naturally-occurring substances in certain foods that can interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland.
Individuals with already existing and untreated thyroid problems may want to avoid miso for this reason.
Soy Beans are an excellent source of molybdenum.
They're also a very good source of protein and manganese.
In addition, they're a good source of iron, phosphorous, dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, copper, vitamin B2, and potassium.
Baked Soybean Koftas
Not only are they simple to make, they're very healthy, immensely nutritious and totally yummy!
All the ingredients work in harmony and the gravy takes no time to make.
Makes 8 servings.
Prep Time: 8 Hours
Cook Time: 30-60 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
For the Koftas
1 c. Soy beans
1 large potato
1 small onion, (shallots/red onions work great.)
1-2 green chillies, finely sliced (or as per taste)
a few cilantro sprigs for garnish
juice and zest of one lemon
sea salt to taste
About 1/2-1 c. of Soya chunks (Indian stores)
For Simple Gravy
1 onion, chopped finely
1 Tbs. ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 Tbs. tomato paste (optional)
1/4-1/2 c. tomato puree
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. garam masala
1 bay leaf
sea salt to taste
1. Soak the soy beans overnight.
Cook them in a pressure cooker.
No problem if it gets mushy.
2. Steam the potato in the steamer with the skin.
3. Mix all the ingredients for the koftas together except the soya chunks.
Mash them with your hands or pulse it up in your food processor
4. Form mixture into meatball-sized balls.
If the dough seems moist, add some soy flour to thicken it up.
5. Spread the soy chunks on a plate and coat the balls with them.
6. Repeat with all the balls and place them in a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes in an 400F oven.
7. Meanwhile in a skillet, add in a 1/4 tsp. oil or if preferred, skip the oil.
Just place the onions and cumin on the hot skillet with some salt.
The salt will bring out the moisture and help the onions cook easily.
That way you cut the oil and make this dish oil free, saute the cumin seeds along with onions, ginger garlic paste and the spices together for a minute until soft.
8. Add the tomato paste (if using) and the puree.
9. Add enough water to make sufficient gravy and once it comes to a boil, thicken it up with little soy flour/cornstarch and bring it to a simmer.
10. Remove the koftas from the oven and pour sauce over the koftas until they are soaked in the gravy.
11. Bake them for another 10 minutes and before serving pour out the remaining gravy.
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