The Simple Truth About Soy. Part 2

Diet |

Soyfoods assists in healthy heart function in several ways. They reduce cholesterol by prohibiting its oxidation. Oxidized cholesterol is the only form that damages, causing plaque to build up in the arteries. Familiar terms for this condition are atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis. Soy also appears to lower triglyceride levels and maintain HDL (good) cholesterol levels. The soluble fiber in soybeans is further known to interfere with the absorption of cholesterol. The isoflavone genistein can protect the heart in two ways: represses growth of cells that crate plaque and inhibit blood clot formation. In other words, this isoflavone helps to keep the arteries open and clean while keeping the blood flowing more easily through the body.

Soyfoods contain many nutrients, are high in fiber and low in saturated fat, which allows them to be among the foods that possess the most anti-cancer activity. Research shows soyfoods help protect against several types of cancer, and one reason is due to genistein. Genistein hinders the spread of cells that sustain tumors, causing the tumor to die of starvation. If also defends the cells against oxidation. Oxidation can form free radicals in the cells, which is a 90’s term, simply meaning toxins or wastes. Current studies indicate genistein may revert cancerous cells back to a healthy state. Hormone dependent cancers, such as, breast, ovarian and prostate, respond very well to soy products. Hormone related cancers are stimulated by an imbalanced production of estrogen. Estrogen causes an over production of cells – tumor. Soyfoods not only feed the body healthy nutrients, but also fools the body’s response to hormone related tumor formation. Therefore, soy helps curb some types of cancer.

Like soy products, the best foods recommended for those with diabetes are low in fat, high in complex carbohydrates and moderate in protein. Soy has an interesting effect on diabetes. Whole soyfoods actually slow the absorption of glucose (blood sugar) into the blood stream. Soy protein may also help prevent or regulate some of the complications of diabetes, such as, heart and kidney disease. The protein in soy is complete, easy to digest, will not obstruct the intestines or overwork the kidneys.

Soyfoods are good for the human body, that has been established, but what are they, how can they be used, and where can they be found? Soyfoods come in many forms, some of them are: soy nuts, tempeh, soy milk, soy cheese, soy yogurt, miso, soy flour, textured soy protein and tofu. Currently, the most popular soyfood in the United States is tofu. Tofu is easy to find, easy to use, tastes great and is very versatile.

Tofu is made from soy milk, which is a direct product of soybean processing. A curdling agent is added to the soy milk to make a curd like product. There are several different types of curdling agents, one being calcium sulfate. When calcium sulfate is used it significantly increases the calcium content of tofu. If there are concerns about calcium intake, it is important to check the nutrient label on tofu packaging.

There are four main types of tofu: extra firm, firm, soft and silken. Each type can be found as low fat, also each brand presents different textures and characteristics. Extra firm tofu contains the least amount of water and maintains its shape the best. It is good for slicing and cubing and can be fried, broiled or grilled. Firm tofu is not as dense but will still hold its shape. It can be sliced and cubed and is great for desserts, dressings and a substitute for cottage, ricotta and cream cheeses. Soft tofu is much less dense. It is ideal for sauces and dressings. Soft tofu can be used to reduce or replace the amount of egg in recipes or replace sour cream and yogurt. Silken tofu has a much creamier consistency. It is also available in extra firm, firm and soft, and can be used in all the above mentioned techniques.
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When buying tofu it can usually be found in the produce section of the grocery store, but sometimes in the dairy and deli sections. Any full service health food store will also stock tofu in the refrigerated section. Tofu is usually found in water-filled tubs or vacuum-packed aseptic brick packaging. Aside from the aseptic packages, tofu should be refrigerated. Once opened, all tofu should be kept in fresh water and refrigerated for up to a week. Tofu can also be frozen up to five months. Defrosted tofu goes through a textured change; it is much chewier and spongy. In this way, the tofu soaks up marinades and sauces well and is great for grilling or sauteing. The mouth feel is much like that of chicken breast or salmon steak.

A great way to integrate soyfoods into the diet is to begin substituting. Start altering recipes and exchange some or all of the milk for soy milk, eggs for soft tofu (1/4 cup per egg), up to 1/3 cup soy flour can be exchanged in baking recipes, and textured soy protein can be used to replace ground turkey or beef in chili, spaghetti sauce or taco filling.

Above all, open up to explore the vast world of soy. Soybeans and the foods made from them are among the most versatile foods in the world. Because of the wide variety of soy products available and their ease of use it is simple to incorporate soyfoods into any meal and experience the health benefits while doing so.

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