I want to incorporate more soy into my diet. Any ideas?
Soy is a great addition to any diet. It's a lean source of high-quality protein. While scientists and nutritionists are still learning lots about its affect on our overall health, indications are strong that diets higher in soy protein, as well as lower in saturated fat, could reduce the risk of heart disease.
Soy protein is also associated with lower rates of breast cancer, prostate cancer and osteoporosis, although the current evidence for these benefits isn't as strong as the evidence regarding heart health.
Luckily for you, there are more and more soy products on the market to help you incorporate more soy into your meal planning. As you try new foods, though, be sure to check the labels. You'll want to try to build to 25 grams of soy protein a day -- that's where the health benefits really kick in. And not all soy products contain soy protein (soy sauce contains no protein, in fact), and others also contain a lot of fat and calories, so be sure you know what you're eating.
Anyway, here are some ideas for you:
- Mix some frozen soy burger crumbles or canned "veggie" burger into your next batch of sloppy joes, chili, spaghetti sauce, meatloaf or other recipes calling for ground beef. Replacing only part of the beef will make flavor and texture changes more subtle. Look at the Nutrition Facts labels for protein content for the amount you use.
- Use frozen soy sausage crumbles in an egg casserole. Use soy milk for the casserole, too, for additional soy protein. Four ounces of plain soy milk contains 5 grams of protein.
- Replace some of the cheese and sausage on your next homemade pizza with soy cheese and soy sausage crumbles.
- Add firm tofu, cut in cubes, to your next stir fry, replacing some or all of the chicken or beef. The tofu will pick up the flavor of the other stir fry ingredients. Four ounces of firm tofu contains 13 grams of protein.
- Get some roasted soy nuts to snack on. These can be chock-full of protein -- again, read the label for the brand you buy. (Also, be sure to take into account the calorie content, too.)
Chow Line is a service of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1044, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor: This column was reviewed by Jaime Ackerman, registered dietitian and Ohio State University Extension nutrition associate in the College of Human Ecology.