The Joy of Soy

According to an October 27, 1999 report by the Associated Press, soy sales are expected to surge to $2.14 billion this year, up from $852 million. Carlos Gutierrez, president of the Kellogg Company, announced that Kellogg will be acquiring one of the biggest manufacturers of soy based meat alternatives, Worthington Foods, further adding that a soy cereal is in the works.

What is causing such an interest in soy? This new interest in soy is the direct result of the October 26, 1999 announcement by the FDA, authorizing a statement that 25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The FDA’s decision comes after careful review of the scientific literature showing the relationship between soy protein and reduced cholesterol levels.

Over the years evidence has been mounting.

In 1982, in the journal Atherosclerosis, A. Goldberg and J. Kolar, presented data showing that soybean protein independently lowers plasma cholesterol levels in primary hypercholesterolemia (43: 355-368).

Back in 1991, in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers from the Human Nutrition Center, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada, performed a review of the clinical studies on the cholesterol lowering response to soy protein. The conclusions of the review are as follows. Substitution of soy protein for animal protein or the addition of soy protein to the diet, lowers total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in individuals with hypercholesterolemia (elevated blood cholesterol levels). Reduction of 20% or more have been obtained with diets high in protein (about 20% of total calories). Triglycerides have also decreased in those with hypertriglyceridemia. Responses are similar in men and women. Such a cholesterol lowering effect is thought to be due to the protein component of soy (1991 July;91 (7): 820-7).

W. Wong, E. Smith and H. Powell, stated in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, that the cholesterol lowering effect of soy protein was found to be independent of age, body weight, and sequence of dietary treatment. Regardless of plasma lipid status, soy protein was associated with a decrease in LDL cholesterol (1998 Dec; 68 6 Suppl: 1385S-1389S).

In the 1998 issue of Nutrition Review, S. Potter of the University of Illinois stated that soy protein when substituted for animal protein in the diet, will lower blood cholesterol (Aug; 56 8: 231-235).

Researchers at the Department of Food Sciences and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois, concluded after a clinical trial of soy protein diets with various levels of isoflavones (estrogen-like compounds of some plants), that soy protein may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease via improved blood lipid profiles. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1998, Sept; 68 3: 545-551).

In order for a food to qualify for the FDA approved label, foods must contain 6.25 grams of soy protein per serving, which is one fourth of the 25 grams needed to attain the cardiovascular benefits.

Which leads us to the question: “How can I add 25 grams of soy protein to my diet?” Here are some tips to acquire 25 grams of soy protein daily.

Soy protein isolate powders are available, and contain between 16 and 25 grams in one serving. Such a product could be combined with 8 ounces of fortified soy milk or nonfat milk, blended with a banana, or other fruit for a breakfast shake or mid-day snack. When choosing a soy protein powder, remember to read the labels to make sure the product is low in fat, sugar, and sodium. One great brand is Nutrisoy. One serving of Nutrisoy Essential Protein contains 16 grams of protein, 750 mg of potassium, 5 mg of sodium, 5 grams of fiber, and less than one gram of fat.

Soy milk can be added to coffee, tea, or dry cereal. 8 ounces of soy milk typically contains between 6 and 10 grams of protein, and many flavors are available to suit any palate. The brands Silk and Westbrae offer vanilla and chocolate. While Eden offers the same, it also has carob for the chocolate sensitive. Another company called Natura, even makes a strawberry flavor. The aforementioned brands are also fortified to match the nutritional profile of milk. A glass can be served with each meal for a daily total between 18 to 30 grams of soy protein. Another way to use soy milk is in any recipe that calls for milk. Just make an even exchange. For example, 1 cup of soy milk for 1 cup of regular milk. Adding vanilla flavored soy milk to a muffin recipe results in a delicious way to add soy protein to ones diet. As a matter of fact, if you have a baking recipe that calls for butter milk, just add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per 1 cup of soy milk to make the exchange. So, if a cake recipe requires 1 and 1/2 cups of butter milk, fill a measuring cup with 1 and 1/2 cups of soy milk, and add 1 and 1/2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Only add this recipe for baking, not for drinking. There will be absolutely no vinegar taste or odor when used in baking.

Tofu can be another easy source of soy protein. The company Mori-nu, offers lite tofu that can be blended with many foods without obstructing the taste. Here is a recipe for a quick soy rich dessert.

1 package of Mori-nu lite tofu (16 oz.)
1 package of frozen strawberries
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
1 ripe banana

Blend all the ingredients in a food processor with steel blades until smooth. This dairy free “ice cream” will serve three (6 to 8 grams of soy protein per serving).

Try adding some meat analogs. A company called White Wave offers mock “chicken” and “beef” burgers. A soy burger on a whole grain roll, with lettuce, onion and tomato, can be a tasty way to add to your soy protein total at lunch. A typical soy “burger” contains between 10 and 22 grams of soy protein.

Here is the contact information for the companies listed in this article.

  • Eden Foods – this company offers free soy milk recipe booklets. 701 Tecumseh Rd. Clinton, Michigan 49236
  • Mori-nu tofu – 1 800-NOW-TOFU
  • Natura, Internova, Inc. – 1 800 993-6455
  • Nutrisoy – 1 888 769-0769
  • Westbrae Natural Foods – 1 800-SOY-MILK
  • White Wave Soy Foods – 1 800 488-9283
  • Worthington Foods, Inc. – this company will provide information and recipes. 900 Proprietors Rd. Worthington, Ohio 43005

In closing, it is easy to add 25 grams of soy protein to your daily nutritional program. A protein shake for lunch mixed with 8 ounces of soy milk will total between 26 and 35 grams. A glass of soy milk at each of the three main meals will add 18 to 30 grams. A soy “burger” for lunch with a glass of soy milk will total between 16 to 32 grams. Remember to read those labels, choose products high in soy protein, low in fat and sodium, and experience the joy of soy.

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