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If you are already living the healthy lifestyle or would like to improve your eating habits, look no further than adding soy to your everyday diet. Compared with meat, soy has about the same amount of protein, but adds fiber, “healthy” fat, and is good for your heart.
Soybeans are the only plant proteins that contain all 8 essential amino acids, meaning they are “complete” proteins like egg whites or chicken. A slice of firm tofu (2.86 ounces) contains 13 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 0.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, 55% of the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for calcium (when made with calcium sulfate), 12% RDI for iron and magnesium, 20% of the RDI for selenium, 9% for vitamin B1, and 6% for folic acid.
Carbs and Fiber
While meat is carb- and fiber-free, most soy products contain carbohydrates, including dietary fiber. For example, 3 ounces of lean ground beef contain no carbs, while a 3-ounce portion of firm tofu provides 4 grams of total carbs — including 2 grams of dietary fiber. Getting plenty of fiber in your diet aids in weight management and helps control blood cholesterol, according to a 2009 review published in “Nutrition Reviews.”
While the fat present in meat is mainly unhealthy saturated fat, which contributes to high blood cholesterol and heart disease when eaten in excess, the majority of dietary fat in soy is heart-healthy, unsaturated fat — including essential omega-3 fatty acids. Replacing saturated fat with healthier mono- or polyunsaturated fat helps reduce your chronic disease risks. It’s also high in omega-3 fats, which ensure normal brain function and lower the risk of dementia. If you’re at risk for high blood cholesterol or heart disease, skip high-fat meats and choose very lean cuts of meat or soy protein.
For Frequently Asked Questions about Tofu, click here.
USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Released 2011 and manufacturers’ information
Earl Mindell’s Soy Food Miracle, Earl Mindell R.PH, PH.D., Released 2005