Soy Protein – Vegetarian Choices for Soy Based Protein Foods


Mention soy to my rural community in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the response is “yuck”. This eloquent word is coupled with a facial expression that is meant to express disgust. I respond by asking if he or she has ever had soy protein in any form. Have you ever tried veggie burgers, veggie chicken, tofu at a Japanese restaurant, microwaveable dinners that are made with soy? I’ll ask. 99% of the time the person has never tried any of the soy protein sources that I mention. 1% has tried a veggie burger and were disappointed that it did not duplicate a hamburger from a burger joint and therefore all soy protein was to be avoided in the future at all cost.

I am a recovering vegetarian, as I call myself, and have tried all sorts of soy products. I am also a dietitian and try everything. I wouldn’t recommend something I haven’t tried. Besides that, I am curious by nature. Just ask my sister who swears I go through all the drawers in her house when she isn’t looking. Just because I know where she keeps all of her things proves nothing. Anyway, back to soy protein.

Soy protein was promoted as promoting cardiac health then the researchers said, “oops-no it doesn’t”. Whatever. If you are eating a soy burger instead of a high fat, high cholesterol burger it has got to be helping your heart. Replacing high fat, high hormone containing animal proteins with soy is also favorable to your overall health. Like the old saying goes, “Try it, you might like it”. Typically soy protein is low in fat, high in protein. It is sold frozen if it is meat-like and only requires reheating. Tofu, made from soybeans, can be added to anything. It takes on the taste of the food it is added to. For instance, add it in small pieces to chili to increase the protein value. Tofu can be added to smoothies for protein also. If you go out to a Japanese restaurant you are likely to find Teriyaki Tofu on the menu, which is tofu that is basted in teriyaki sauce, and is flash fried. It is delicious.

Looking to bulk up? Powdered soy proteins are big among bodybuilders due to the high protein content. These powders are generally sold in bulk containers and are added to shakes by the scoopful to aid in meeting the huge protein needs of those who are looking to add muscle mass. Even if you are not into bodybuilding, but are not a fan of meat this could help you meet your protein needs. Who doesn’t like a smoothie? These powders do not require refrigeration and can be added to just about anything. Generally they are mixed with water or milk though. Powdered soy proteins come in all kinds of flavors or you can just use vanilla if you are adding fruit and your shake will taste like the fruit you choose. This type of shake would be much healthier than an ice cream shake and once you start experimenting you may find that you are just as happy with your soy shake. Your body will be.

Give soy a chance before you say “yuck”. Try new things. If you like some of the soy protein products that are out there you can incorporate them into your diet and benefit your health. What do you have to lose other than cholesterol points?

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About Author

Ali is a registered and licensed dietitian and nutritionist from Pennsylvania. She is proactive in her approach to improving the nutritional health of her clients. Ali is extremely effective in developing individualized nutritional treatment plans for each client's specific lifestyle.

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