In this article, you will find out about the benefits of soy types and how to consume them correctly. See below! Soybeans are a legume, as are beans , peas , lentils and chickpeas . It is a very nutritious grain, rich in protein, where it compares to animal protein. It is also made up of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
According to Aprosoja, the Brazilian Association of Soy Producers, this grain is one of the oldest agricultural products in humanity. The first reference to soy as a food occurred over five thousand years ago in Asia, more specifically in China, where the Chinese emperor, Shen-nung, considered the father of agriculture, started the cultivation of grains as an alternative to the slaughter of animals. In the West, it was only in the mid-twentieth century, in the United States, that it began to be marketed as food.
In Brazil, the expansion of soy began in the early 1970s, in the south of the country, when the oil industry began to expand. The cultivation of grain has also been stimulated because it is the best alternative during the summer to replace wheat, which is only cultivated in winter. It was in this decade that soy was consolidated as the main crop of Brazilian agribusiness.
Types of soy and their benefits
Currently, despite many variations, there are three types of soybeans that are best known. According to nutritionist Carolina Favaron, “the most widely cultivated type of soy these days is yellow soy, but it is also possible to find black soy and edamame, which is the still green soy bean, inside the pod”, she explains . The professional says that they all have health benefits, as they have similar nutritional profiles.
“The isoflavones present in these three types of soy are associated with many benefits, such as helping to control cholesterol and reducing menopausal symptoms, especially hot flashes,” says Carolina.
The structure of isoflavones present in soy is similar to that of estrogen, whose production drops during menopause. Therefore, the consumption of the grain can work as a kind of hormonal balance for women who enter this phase, helping to fight the symptoms. As for cholesterol, soy helps in reducing levels of bad cholesterol, LDL, and in increasing levels of HDL, good cholesterol.
Carolina explains that in relation to the amount of nutrients, such as protein content, fiber and isoflavones, there are no great variations between these three types of soy, however, black soy has a much higher antioxidant content when compared to yellow soy.
“It is these antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, which give the grain its dark color”, he emphasizes. The black pigment that covers this soy forms a kind of husk around the bean, which helps to better conserve its nutrients and is also able to act on cells that store fat and promote weight loss.
As for edamame, the specialist says that it is also a source of fiber and has an amino acid profile similar to other grains, but it is mostly consumed as a snack option.
How to correctly consume soy?
The most common way to consume soy is cooked, either as a substitute for beans , or in the form of a salad. But, as Carolina has already said, edamame has also been widely consumed as a snack option.
About the correct amount for consumption, she says: “the ideal amount will depend on the needs of each person, but like any food, excess is not recommended, and its consumption should be alternated with other options from the same group, such as beans and the lentil”. The expert explains that soy has a high allergenic potential if consumed in excess.
Regarding consumption in the form of grains, Carolina warns: “It is important to emphasize that before cooking, the grains must be soaked for up to 8 hours, and cooked with fresh water, in this way, it is possible to eliminate the antinutritional factors that inhibit absorption nutrients and can generate gases”.
Care with transgenic soy
The professional also alerts to the fact that most of the soy cultivated in Brazil is transgenic and, therefore, many health experts condemn its consumption. To avoid problems that can be caused by this type of modified food, Carolina advises to give preference to fermented versions.
In addition, there are many soy-based industrial foods like beverages, sauces, oils, etc. that must be consumed with great care due to this fact. “The ideal is to consume the versions that have not gone through as much processing, such as tofu, tempeh and miso, which are the versions most consumed by Orientals. Whenever possible, it is recommended to prefer organic versions, since most of the soy cultivated in Brazil is currently transgenic and with a high content of pesticides”, advises the nutritionist.
Other options besides soy
Due to its benefits, soy consumption became very high for a period, especially for vegetarians, as if it were the only option available to substitute animal foods. However, for those who have stopped meat, there are many food options that can be consumed for those who want to vary the menu or even replace soy altogether, if the person does not have access to organic soy.
“All foods from the legume group, such as beans and lentils, can be consumed as an option for those who have stopped eating meat, especially if combined with cereals such as rice, forming a complete protein source. Other grains such as quinoa and amaranth, in addition to oilseeds, also provide protein.
For those who do not eat meat, the ideal is to bet on a varied diet, as no single food is capable of meeting the body’s needs”, explains Carolina. Therefore, before starting any diet or food replacement, see a nutritionist.