Latin name: Glycine max
What is Soy?
The soybean is a subtropical species of legume native to East Asia. A member of the pea family Fabaceae, soybean plants grow up to 5 feet tall, forming in clusters of 3 to 5 pods, each containing up to four beans per pod. Soy has been a dietary staple in Asian nations for more than 5,000 years. During the Chou dynasty in China (1134–246 BC), methods of fermentation were discovered that enabled soy to be prepared in more easily digestible forms, including tempeh, miso, and tamari soy sauce. Tofu was invented in second-century China. Soy and its many forms are very versatile in cooking, as soy, bland on its own, has the ability to take on the flavor of its surrounding ingredients.
What are the health benefits of Soy?
Cooling in nature, traditional Chinese medicine uses soy, specifically tofu, to detoxify and aid in the treatment of dysentery, malaria, anemia, and irregular menstruation.
Unlike other beans, soybeans are considered to be a source of complete protein, including all essential amino acids. For this reason, soy is a good source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. In addition, soy contains isoflavones, fiber, and lecithin. Soy has been researched for its potential ability to lower cardiovascular disease risk factors, reduce menopausal symptoms, aid in weight loss, treat arthritis, bolster brain function, and enhance exercise performance. Soy may decrease the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer, as well as other types of cancers. Recent research on soy protein indicates that consuming soy regularly can help to lower total cholesterol levels by as much as 30%, and is especially effective for lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels.
Bear in mind that soy is a particularly controversial food, with many touting its health benefits, while others point out its potential dangers, including its blocking action of some minerals and depressing effect on the thyroid. Use soy wisely, as part of a balanced healthy diet; it is a good idea to speak with your physician before beginning a dietary program that is high in soy.
More information about the healing powers of Fermented Soybean can be found in the Herb section.
Are there any precautions for taking Soy?
Soy and soy products may cause food allergies in those who are susceptible. Also, be aware that soy contains high amounts of oxalic acid, which has been implicated in kidney stone formation. Additionally, a large percentage of soybeans are GMOs; for those who wish to avoid GMO foods, it’s is a good idea to only buy organic soy products.
Where can I find Soy?
Soy and soy products are found in grocery stores, health food stores, and Asian markets.
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