A Guide to Soyfoods

Soymilk is made from the whole soybean. The creamy liquid varies in color from tan to white. It is lactose- and casein-free and is available in regular and low-fat varieties. Some brands are fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and/or vitamin B12.

Soy Flour is made by grinding roasted soybeans into a fine powder. Soy flour is available in both full-fat (contains the natural oils found in the bean) and defatted (in which the oils are removed during processing) forms. Although both full-fat and defatted soy flour adds protein to recipes, the defatted soy flour adds more because the protein is more concentrated.

Soy Protein Powder can be added to recipes to boost the protein content. Soy protein isolate is a dry powder made from defatted soy flakes. It contains 90% protein, which is the highest amount for any soy product, and all the essential amino acids of soy products. Soy protein isolate often is labeled "soy protein powder drink mix."

Soy Meat Alternatives, or meat analogs, are made when soy protein is mixed with other ingredients to simulate various kinds of meat. Soy meat alternatives are created to look and taste like meats, but do not actually contain any meat at all. Available flavors include pork, beef, poultry, and sausage.

Whole Green Soybeans that are harvested at 80% maturity are called edamame. This special variety of soybeans is bigger and sweeter than most commercially grown soybeans. Edamame is served cooked and salted for a snack, and also can be used in recipes.

Whole Dry Soybeans are fully mature and dry when harvested. Once these beans are cleaned, they must be soaked and cooked before using in recipes. Soybeans should be cooked before eating so that the protease inhibitor found in soybeans is destroyed. Cooking also improves the digestibility of the beans.

Textured Soy Protein is made when defatted soy flour or soy protein concentrate is compressed and extruded into granules. The granules are rehydrated with water, which gives textured soy protein a texture similar to ground beef.

Tempeh is a chunky soybean cake made when whole soybeans are mixed with another grain (such as rice) and fermented into a cake of soybeans with a smoky or nutty flavor.

Adapted from: U.S. Soyfoods Directory. 2003 Soyfoods Guide. Available at www.soyfoods.com. Accessed Aug. 19, 2003.

Suggestions for Adding Soy to the Diet

  • Include soy-based beverages, muffins, sausages, yogurt, or cream cheese at breakfast.
  • Use soy deli meats, soy nut butter (similar to peanut butter), or soy cheese to make sandwiches.
  • Top pizzas with soy cheese, pepperoni, sausages, or "crumbles" (similar to ground beef).
  • Grill soy hot dogs, burgers, marinated tempeh, and baked tofu.
  • Cube and stir fry tofu or tempeh and add to a salad.
  • Pour soymilk on cereal and use it in cooking or to make "smoothies."
  • Order soy-based dishes such as spicy bean curd and miso soup at Asian restaurants.
  • Eat roasted soy nuts or a soy protein bar for a snack.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Adding Soy Protein to the Diet. Available at: http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/fdsoypr.html. Accessed Aug. 19, 2003.