History Of Soya Beans
Soya is one of the oldest and most nutritious foods in the world.
In the 11th century BC it was primarily consumed in Northern China, spreading to the west and the U.S.A. in the middle of the 18th century and only more recently to Europe.
Soya is mainly used in industry and for animal feed despite the fact that it is the third most important crop world-wide today and less than 3% is consumed by humans.
What Nutritional Value Does The Soya Bean Have?
Soya has many nutritional advantages as it contains protein, fiber and isoflavones which have positive effects on cholesterol, bone density, menstrual and menopausal symptoms as well as preventing certain cancers.
It is thought to be a wonder food by the Chinese who believe it can cure kidney disease, water retention, common colds, anaemia and leg ulcers.
Research studies by Professor Anderson in 1995 resulted in healthy heart claims as Soya was found to reduce blood cholesterol levels in many of his studies. Soya isoflavones combined with soya protein enhance blood cholesterol reductions as well as having a positive effect on menopausal women by reducing the risk of hot flushes.
Improved vascular function, reduction of blood pressure, antioxidant protection of LDL cholesterol and inhibition of platelet activation are other known cardiovascular effects of Soya and its constituent isoflavones.
Nutritional Benefits of Soya Beans
The key benefits of soya are its high protein content, vitamins, mineralsand insoluble fibre. The soya bean has been transformed into a number of popular soya based foods including:
- Miso – a fermented soya bean paste that is used as a flavouring, popular in Asian cuisine. It is a good source of many minerals.
- Tempeh – is an Indonesian specialty typically made by cooking and dehulling soya beans and forming a textured, solid ‘cake’. It is a very good source of protein, B vitamins and minerals.
- Tofu – also known as bean curd is made from soya milk by coagulating the soya proteins with calcium or magnesium salts. The whey is discarded and the curds are processed. It is an excellent source of iron and calcium and a very good source of protein.
|173kcal||17g protein||1g sat fat||10g crabohydrate||6g fibre|
The high fibre content makes soya beans and other soya containing foods valuable in cases of constipation, high cholesterol and type -2 diabetes.
Do You Know What the Recommend Daily Amount is?
The recommended daily amount of soya protein by the UK Joint Health Claims Initiative in 2002 is 25g as part of a low-fat diet to help reduce cholesterol level. In orser to achieve this RDA of Soya to promote a healthy heart and reduce cholesterol it is necessary to consume three portions of a Soya based food each day.
This can be easily achieved by using Soya milk on cereal each morning, adding soya milk to tea and coffee and choosing a dessert made from soya milk eg. custard or fruit smoothies yoghurt etc.,
There are many Soya cookery books available as well as the many recipes containing soya beans and tofu which already exist in Chinese cooking books.
If more people included Soya into their daily diet the risk of developing Heart disease would be reduced which would have a significant impact on the incidence of mortality caused by Coronary Heart Disease today.
Soya is regarded as equal to animal foods in protein quality yet it is thought that plant proteins are processed differently to animal proteins. For example, experimental studies have shown that soya protein isolates tend to lower cholesterol levels while protein from animal sources can raise cholesterol levels.
Soya beans also contain compounds called phytosterols. These plant compounds are structurally similar to cholesterol and steroid hormones.
They function to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol by blocking absorption sites. The cholesterol lowering effects of phytosterols are well documented.
Genetics and environmental factors play a huge part in how our bodies react to certain foods, so as yet we can’t say whether a diet rich in phytoestrogenic foods is beneficial or not. If you are a vegetarian orvegan, soya-based foods can be an invaluable part of your diet.
How to select & store
Packets of dried soya beans are generally available in supermarkets and health food stores. Keep airtight and in a cool, dry place.
Dried soya beans are best soaked before cooking in order to make them easier to digest. If purchasing canned beans, look for those that do not contain extra salt or additives.
Once cooked, soya beans can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Edamame are fresh soya beans. They should be a deep green colour with firm, unbruised pods. Edamame can be found in health food shops and Asian supermarkets.
They may be in the frozen section, although some shops now offer pre-cooked edamame. Many sushi restaurants serve edamame beans.
Soybeans are a common allergen. Raw or sprouted soya beans contain substances called goitrogens, which can interfere with thyroid gland activity.
Soya also contains oxalate. Individualswith a history of oxalate containing kidney stones should avoid overconsumption. Women who have or have had oestrogen-sensitive breast tumours should restrict their soya intake to no more than four servings per week.
Although studies don’t give us any clear guidance on eating soya-rich foods, women with oestrogen receptor positive breast tumours should restrict their soya intake to no more than four servings per week and should avoid soya isoflavone supplements.
You can also buy your soya beans at asda/tesco and all other major supermarkets.
Before changing your diet, it is advisable that you speak to your GP or alternative health professional.
Have you used soya or soya beans in your daily meals? if please leave a comment below.