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The 3 Things You Need to Know About Soy

The 3 Things You Need to Know About Soy

The claims are amazing -- soy does everything from lowering cholesterol and fighting cancer to thwarting brittle bones -- but scientists are still arguing. Let 'em. Because if you're looking for a high-protein food that's low in saturated fat (this, of course, is where cheeseburgers and steaks flame out) soy's awesome. And hey, if it turns out that all those other claims are true, jackpot!

So here's all you need to know:

1. Drink up. Even die-hard carnivores -- not to mention the lactose intolerant and people who just don't care for dairy -- like soymilk. (The vanilla Silk brand gets them hooked.) Just make sure it's calcium fortified. A cup of fortified has 200–400 milligrams of calcium, or 20%-40% of your recommended dietary allowance.

2. Keep it simple. Heavy-duty processing isn't any better for soy than it is for whole grains. Choose basic Asian soy foods, such as tofu, tempeh, and miso, rather than highly processed soy sausages, frozen desserts, and energy bars. Otherwise, you're likely to find the label full of cholesterol, saturated fat, sugar, and sodium.

3. Think whole beans. Soybeans -- widely known as edamame (ed-a-mommy) -- give you the purest punch of the plant's phytochemicals, especially its isoflavones. Many supermarkets now stock frozen soybeans (in and out of the pod), and some even have fresh ones. Keeping frozen shelled beans on hand makes it easy to toss them into soups, salads, pasta, tortillas -- or this hummus recipe, made with soybeans instead of chickpeas. 

SPICY SOYBEAN HUMMUS

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Serve with whole-grain pita bread or as a dip for raw veggies.

2 large cloves of garlic
1 1/2 cups cooked soybeans
2 tablespoons roasted sesame tahini
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 to 4 tablespoons vegetable broth

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Roast garlic cloves in shallow pan for 7 to 10 minutes, or until they just begin to brown and can be pierced easily with a fork. Cool and peel.

2. In a blender or food processor, combine cooked soybeans, tahini, garlic, cumin, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, and soy sauce. Blend until smooth. Blend in broth a teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.

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