Incorporate Soy into Your Diet for Improved Cholesterol Levels and Other Health Benefits

Humans have recently rediscovered the soybean, one of the world’s oldest foods. (Records show that Glycine max was a food crop in China some 5,000 years ago.) Today the legume is touted as a wonder food because it is high in protein and contains all the essential amino acids needed for cell growth, plus large amounts of potassium and iron, some calcium, carotin, niacin, and vitamins B1 and B2. Low in sodium and fat content and high in fiber, the soybean is ideal for those with blood pressure concerns, and it helps lower LDL cholesterol while raising HDL levels.

Soybeans contain a type of plant estrogen called isoflavones, in particular genistein and daidzein, which mimic the effect of estrogen in the body. Studies have found that Japanese women, who consume large amounts of soy foods, have fewer menopausal symptoms. Scientists also believe that eating soy foods may help prevent osteoporosis; protect against breast, prostate, and other forms of cancer; and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

So how do you incorporate soy into your diet? First, buy foods made only from organically grown soybeans. If they are not certified organic, you will likely get soybeans that have been genetically altered, spliced with an herbicide that allows the plants to withstand toxic amounts of chemicals.

Many tasty, nutritious foods, including miso, soymilk, tamari, tempeh, and tofu, are made from soybeans.

Sample recipe:

Chocolate Pudding
Serves 6

This pudding can be made in the morning and served that evening.

  • 3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 cups soymilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine the cornstarch, sugar, salt, and cocoa in a heavy-bottomed, nonreactive saucepan. Add the milk, place the pan over moderate heat, and whisk the contents together. Continue cooking and whisking as the pudding thickens.

When the pudding begins to bubble and come to a boil, stir and boil for 1 minute. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the vanilla. Immediately pour the pudding into cups. Place the cups on a plate or pan and allow them to come to room temperature. Refrigerate until well chilled; at least 30 to 45 minutes.

Check out the May/June 2000 issue of Natural Home for more about the many forms of soy, including many delicious recipes.

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