The nutritional values and benefits of soy have been hotly debated since its introduction into the American diet. You may have heard in the news recently that a review of the research on soy showed that its heart health benefits have been overstated. In 1999, the Food and Drug Administration gave manufacturers permission to make health claims on certain soy food labels. This was based on the belief that consuming 25 grams of soy protein daily lowered cholesterol. In early 2006, scientists released a report that was based on a review of 22 studies on the health effects of soy protein. They found that the benefits on cholesterol were minimal to nil.
That's the science. However, ask any expert whether a serving of soybeans or tofu are a healthier choice than a steak or even a piece of chicken, and you'll likely hear a resounding yes.
A half-cup of green soybeans (sometimes called edamame) contains 127 calories, 6 grams of fat (the good kind), 11 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and 10 grams of carbohydrate. They also provide a healthy dose of vitamins, especially vitamin C and folate, and minerals. No matter what the research shows, adding soy to your diet –– or using it to replace protein sources that are high in saturated fat –– is a good thing.
Reviewed by Susan Weiner RD, MS, CDE, CDN, 03/08
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