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Soy: A Nutritious Plant-Based Protein Source  

by Ali Haider

Soy was introduced in the US in the 18th century. It originated in South East Asia, where it was a staple food for more than two thousand years. The advances in food processing and soy’s ease of growing are the reason for increased plant adoption in the US. Moreover, people are becoming more cautious about what they eat. Americans are seeking food products that provide the necessary nutrients for healthy living and sustainability; soy is one of the plants that provide both.  

Soybeans are legumes, a food class that boasts many health benefits. It is also the only plant-based complete protein source, making it an excellent choice for vegans, vegetarians, or anyone looking for a meat alternative.  

There has been a lot of talk about soy in recent years, with people raising dissenting views on its benefits and potential effects. However, most negative claims about the plant are falsehoods. On the contrary, the crop boasts many benefits to its consumers. Soy can be straight from the ground food like soybeans or heavily refined food like protein powder. There has been a lot of interest and study of the crop, and new information is coming out with each passing moment. In this piece, you will understand what is true about soy and how it might benefit you.  

Soy as a Source of Protein 

Soy products, especially soybeans, are one of the best plant-based protein sources. The protein content of soybeans is 36-56% of its dry weight. A cup of soybeans, or 172 grams of boiled soybeans, boasts about 31 grams of protein.  

The nutritional value of soy protein is excellent, but the quality differs from some animal proteins. Moreover, the main types of proteins in soybeans are conglycinin and glycinin, making up about 80% of the total protein content. The consumption of protein from soy has been associated with a modest decline in cholesterol levels.  

Nutritional Facts of Soy 

The nutritional makeup of soy foods varies depending on what you are consuming. Soy is an excellent source of fiber, proteins, minerals, and vitamins. It also contains unsaturated fat and is free of cholesterol.  

Soy foods’ fiber, carb, mineral, and fat counts vary widely. Soy protein isolate has the highest protein per serving. This is because it is processed to be a concentrated nutrient source. If you wish to know more, consider checking out U.S. Soy for more information on soy. 

In the case of soybeans, they contain a good amount of proteins and carbs. The nutritional facts of 100 grams or 3.5 ounces of soybeans are: 

  • Protein: 18.2 grams 
  • Carbs: 8.4 grams 
  • Calories: 172 
  • Fiber: 6 grams 
  • Sugar: 3 grams 
  • Fat: 9 grams 
  • Saturated: 1.3 grams 
  • Polyunsaturated: 5.06 grams 
  • Monounsaturated: 1.98 grams 

Soy and Amino Acids 

Plant proteins are commonly criticized: they do not contain all the vital amino acids the body requires to make proteins. However, this is as false as the claim that plant proteins are inferior to all animal proteins.  

Plants have all vital amino acids, but they vary in amounts. For example, lysine is only found in small quantities in most cereals and grains. It is best to include other lysine sources in your diet, such as soy, so that your body makes the needed proteins. Ensure you enjoy a diverse diet, which is fantastic for your health. With soy in your diet, you will get ample amounts of all nine essential amino acids, making it a great meat alternative.  

Types of Soy Foods 

Soy comes in various forms, with varying health effects and nutrients. Below are some of the foods containing soy that you could add as your alternative sources of proteins: 


Edamame is soybeans that are harvested while they are still green and sweet tasting. They can be served as a main vegetable or snack after boiling in water for almost 20 minutes. Furthermore, they are high in fiber and protein and have no cholesterol. Edamame can be bought in the pod or shelled in the food aisle or produce section.  


This is a nutty cake or patty made by partially cooking whole soybeans before fermenting them with the mold Rhizopus oligosporus. It can be marinated, sliced, or grilled and added to casseroles, chili, or soups. You can find it in health and Asian food stores.  


It is also referred to as soybean curd. This is a smooth, soft soy product made from hot soymilk with a coagulant. It has a mild flavor and quickly absorbs the marinade flavors, spices, and other ingredients.  

Tofu boasts high-quality protein and B vitamins. There are two types: water-packed and silken tofu. The former is solid and dense and holds up well in soups, stir fry dishes, the grill, or anywhere you want it to maintain the shape. On the other end, the latter is a softer product. It goes well with blended or pureed dishes.  

Meat Alternatives 

Meat alternatives contain tofu or soy protein and imitate meat such as sausages, hot dogs, and burgers. They are free of cholesterol and have lower fat than meat. Moreover, they are excellent B vitamins and protein sources.  


Soymilk is derived from soybeans. The beans are soaked, ground, and strained to produce soybean milk. Plain, unfortified, soy milk has proteins and B vitamins but is low in vitamin D and calcium. However, you can get fortified versions with these nutrients.  

Milk from soybeans works as an excellent alternative for lactose-intolerant people. It can also be used instead of milk in cooking or as a beverage.  

Soy Nuts 

So nuts are whole soybeans that have been soaked in water before being baked till brown. They are high in isoflavones and protein and are similar in flavor and texture to peanuts.  

Soy Sauce 

This is a dark brown liquid made of soybeans that have gone through fermenting. Soy sauce has little soy protein and high salt levels. 

Shoyu and tamari are the two main types of soy sauce. Teriyaki sauce also contains soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and spices.  


Soy foods are high in proteins, carbs, and fat. They are a rich source of minerals, vitamins, and other plant compounds, such as isoflavones. Since the plant has all these nutrients, it has several health benefits, such as alleviating menopausal symptoms and potentially reducing cancer and bone health promotion, among other benefits. Ensure you pick the minimally processed foods over the highly processed ones to accrue the highest benefits.