What is Soy?
It is often taken as a given fact that soy is beneficial to our health, and that it is certainly a healthier alternative to dairy products and meat. However, it is rare that anyone actually either asks or informs us of what soy is or why we should consume it.
Soy – Where does it come from?
The origins of soy can be traced back to Japan from as early as 2800 B.C. Since then, it has been a prominent feature of the Asian diet and has been linked to the lower frequency of cancer in those native to this region (especially in comparison to the UK and the USA).
Soy was first introduced in Europe in the early 18th Century and has gone from being used almost exclusively as animal feed to a multi-billion dollar industry.
What is it?
Soy is a highly nutritious legume which has over a 40% protein content, omega3 fatty acids, high fibre content and contains ‘isoflavones’ which are known to imitate the effects of natural estrogens. Also known as glycine soja (wild soybean), soybeans are the world's primary source of vegetable protein and contain all of the essential amino acids, which gives it the title of a ‘complete protein’.
Why Consume Soy?
Aside from the obvious benefits to consuming soy outlined above, there are several more specific reasons as to why soy would be a smart addition to any diet or lifestyle. Soy has been given more and more attention in terms of research over the past decade and the following have been the most prominent discoveries:
Soy can help prevent heart disease;
Soy has been shown to benefit those with, and prevent, Type 2 Diabetes;
Soy can help prevent Cancer of the Breast, Colon, Uterus and Prostate;
Soy can help to prevent osteoporosis;
The high protein content of Soy can improve athletic performance;
Making Soy a Part of Your Diet:
This is not as difficult as it sounds as soy products are becoming more and more readily available (in all shapes, sizes and flavours) and equipment such as soy milk makers, and tofu kits are now available for home use, as well as commercial.
Probably the biggest step towards increasing soy in your diet (and replacing dairy) is gained from converting to soy milk. Although some people find the taste of soy milk, ‘different’ to that of cow’s milk, by transitioning, this can easily be overcome.
By mixing soy with cow’s milk, in incremental steps over the period of a month or so, it can be relatively easy to transition.
Weeks 1-2: Use 25% Soy, and 75% cow’s milk on cereals and for drinking ‘neat’. Use soy in coffee and tea, but with a splash of milk. Replace 25% of regular flour with soy flour when baking. Use soy milk in smoothies where the taste is much weaker than on cereals.
Weeks 2-4: Split 50-50 when using milk and flour. Use only soy in tea and coffee and have a scoop of soy-based ‘ice cream’ along with regular ice-cream.
Week 4+: Increase split to 25-75 in favour of soy milk and flour. Continue at this level until you feel accustomed to the taste of soy milk and other soy products.
** It will not be long until your taste alters and you actual begin to prefer the taste of soy milk, especially in drinks such as smoothies, where soy gives a much more creamy taste.
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