Saturday, July 14, 2007

Is Soya Good for You?

You may or may not like tofu, soya nuggets and soya milk, but you might have definitely heard that it is good for you.
In fact, some people mix soya flour with wheat to add that 'extra' protein in their diet.
However, some forms of soya can actually be bad for your health.

…But First

If you don't know exactly what soya is, here's a low down. Soya bean is actually a legume like your dals (lentils), beans and peas.
It contains nutrients and minerals that are great for health. And the best thing about soya is that its protein levels are really high and carbohydrate levels are really low.

So if you are worried about not getting enough protein because you are vegetarian, or if you are allergic to lactose in milk, then soya could be the answer to your prayers.
According to Dr. Anjali Mukerjee, Health Total, medical researches have shown strong connection between consumption of soy foods and prevention of heart diseases by lowering blood cholesterol levels, osteoporosis, cancer, kidney diseases and relief of menopausal symptoms.

What Is Good, What Is Bad?

Dr. Mukerjee says, "Yes, soy is definitely good for your health. It is however, important to note that soybean, apart from very good nutrition, contain certain anti-nutritional properties. These need to be inactivated to safe level prior to food use. You should therefore use processed soybean for food use."
Also, Dr. Mukerjee says that people who suffer from Irritable bowel syndrome or are allergic to soybean should avoid taking soy products.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), much of the research to date has examined dietary soya in the form of whole foods such as tofu, soya milk, or as soya protein added to foods. Some chemicals present in commercial soya these days have a drug-like effect in your body. This effect may be increased if you are postmenopausal.
In fact, high consumptions of soya might even increase the risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer.
Mumbai-based Nutritionist Naini Setalvad says, "Excess soya is very bad. This is simply because soya contains too much protein. That is why it is okay to eat soya in the fermented form i.e. as tofu or soya sauce."
According to Naini, nowadays, due to the popularity of soya and so much of health awareness, soya is being grown commercially. This just means that there are a whole lot of chemicals that are being added to soya, which is taking away its entire nutrient content, thus soya is no longer organic anymore.
"In fact," she continues, "Even though soya was considered non-allergenic, now it is one of the top 10 allergic products in the world."
According to Naini, we must understand that soya is not ideal for the Indian diet. She says, "In India, we have a huge range of pulses and legumes that are ideal for the Indian palate. We really don't need to incorporate other ideas thinking they will be suitable for us."

Naini recommends that it's best to stay away from soya flour or atta and soya bean. Soya is best in the fermented form. So you can have tofu and soya sauce, but in reasonable amounts.

You can buy soya as processed food or it is natural form. Here are some forms of soya that are good for you, provided you have it in moderation.

Soya Bean Curd

Soya bean curd, or tofu, is the coagulated form of soya bean milk. Tofu is a rather bland version of paneer.
You may not like it because of its unflavoured taste, but its tender and delicate texture can be extremely nutritious.
Nowadays, tofu is becoming popular as a health freak's staple diet and more often than not, if you start on a diet, then tofu will definitely be on your must-haves foods-to-eat list.
The best thing about tofu is that since it is so delicate, you don't have to cook it much. Therefore, a little tofu stir fry with veggies, using minimalist oil, certainly turns out to be an overall healthy meal.

Soya Nuggets

This is the pure unprocessed form of soya. These are readily available in all grocery stores and bazaars. The best thing about these soya nuggets is that if you cook it like any other curry, it tastes very much like meat.
So, in effect, you are eating something that is vegetarian, and yet getting the taste and nutrients of non-vegetarian foods.
Here's how you can compare the nutritional values of soya to meat:

Per (100gms) Soybean nuggets---- Meat (lamb)
Calories___________ 432 kcal ----194kcal
Protein ____________43 gm---- 18.5gm
Fat _______________19.5 gm ----13.3gm
Carbohydrate _______20.9 gm--- nil

Soya Milk

Soya milk is also fast becoming a health freak's staple drink.
It is made from soya bean crushed with water and made into a milky liquid. Known to have good protein quantities, soya milk also contains added nutrients like Vitamin B.
Apart from that, soya milk does not contain lactose from milk, and is great for those who are lactose intolerant.
Here's a comparison of soya milk to cow's milk:

Foods ____Soya milk (240 ml)---- Cow milk (240 ml)

Calories (Kcal)___ 79_________ 121
Protein (gm) ______7 _____________8
Fat (gm) __________5_____________ 5
Carbohydrate (gm) _4 __________12
Fibre (gm) _______3___________ 0

Soya Bean Oil

Soya bean oil is the oil that is extracted from soya beans. Known popularly as vegetable oil, this oil does not contain much saturated fat, which increases cholesterol and is a risk for cardiac problems.
Apart from that, soya bean oil also contains natural anti-oxidants that are healthy for your body and hence is much safer than any animal fat.

Soya Flour

Soya flour is simply soya bean crushed into a powder. Rich in proteins and other minerals, this flour can be used for sauces and soups, as well as for bakery items, and is even packaged as baby food.
According to Dr. Mukerjee, soya flour is a great source of protein and contains fibre, B vitamins, and antioxidants.

How Much To Have?
Dr. Mukerjee says, "Soya and soya products are good enough to be consumed on a daily basis. Approximately 100 gms of soyabean taken on a daily basis will help your body avoid menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, delay bone degeneration, and also reduce risk to heart diseases."
Hence, it is advisable to add 50-100 gms of soya and soya products in form of tofu, soya flour, soya milk, soya oil, etc into our daily menu, at least 4-5 times in a week.


Ann Devoss said...

Getting off of Soya was crucial to dealing with my irritable bowel syndrome. I discovered this along with a whole list of other resources over at the Dietary Supplement Information Bureau's site. Now I only use natural remedies and I rarely suffer from bouts of IBS.

Unknown said...

This is a great list. I had suffered for years before I stumbled upon the Dietary Supplement Information Bureau's site on natural remedies. I had to change my diet, stress level and adjust my supplements but now I feel great most of the time, so it was worth it. They to suggest Magnesium but they compare it to other solutions. Check it out!