This is the fourth and final article in our 2014 National Nutrition Month #SoyInspired series!
by Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN
Being a vegetarian isn’t the only reason to eat soy-based products. There are benefits for all of us – young or old, vegan or omnivore – to incorporating more soyfoods into our meals. Although most of the benefits center on improved health, I think the biggest advantage to adding soyfoods to our meals is the way they can increase the variety in our diets.
With all the news we hear about superfoods, it’s easy to become convinced we can eat all we want of some foods (we can’t) or meet all our nutritional needs by just eating foods on a “top ten” list (we won’t). Eating a greater variety of foods is the best way to achieve optimal nutrition.
I also like to focus on variety because it’s an easy way to make sure no food takes up more space on our diet than it should, and that helps us deal with the hard-to-grasp concept of moderation. Simply put, it means we must control the amount and frequency of everything we eat to have a balanced diet. Too much of anything is not good, but there is room for everything when all foods are eaten in moderation.
If you want to expand the variety of your diet there are soy-based options in every section of the grocery store that can be incorporated into every part of your menu. For example, you can substitute soy strips for bacon in your BLT and soy crumbles for ground beef in your taco. And veggie burgers made with soy protein are now available in flavors ranging from spicy chicken to savory mushroom.
If you don’t think you’re ready to use a soy-based meat alternative, why not start with a soy snack? Try dipping soy crisps into your guacamole or spreading soy nut butter on an apple. Or you can take a soy bar along on your next hike or toss some roasted soy nuts into your trail mix. Remember, the goal isn’t to only eat soyfoods; it’s to add them to your diet to increase the variety of foods you eat every day.
Use this handy guide to add more soy foods to your shopping list.
Where to Find Soyfoods in the Supermarket
SECTION SOY PRODUCTS
Produce fresh soybeans, tofu, tempeh, miso
Freezer edamame, meat alternatives, dairy-free frozen desserts
Dairy soymilk, soy yogurt, soy cheese, soy margarine
Snack soy nuts, soy bars, soy chips, soy crisps, soy crackers, soy pretzels
Staples canned and dried soybeans, soy pasta, soy flour, soy nut butter
Condiments soy sauce, soy oil, soy mayonnaise
Robyn Flipse is a registered dietitian and cultural anthropologist whose 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, and authoring 2 popular diet books and numerous articles and blogs on health and fitness. Her ability to make sense out of confusing and sometimes controversial nutrition news has made her a frequent guest on major media outlets, including CNBC, FOX News and USA Today. Robyn also serves as a consultant to global food companies to help them better understand the cultural forces shaping consumer eating behavior and food consumption trends. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food decisions they can in their everyday diets.