A collection of soy foods (edamame, tofu, soy beans, soy milk) set on a wooden table.

Soy beans were first cultivated in central China in 1100 BC. They came to America in 1765 and were widely planted in the Midwest, especially Iowa, and in the 1850s they began being used as an edible fat source (soybean oil). Soy foods include edamame, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and condiments like miso paste and soy sauce. Soy protein isolate is a processed soy food commonly found in supplemental protein products like bars and powders. Tempeh is a traditional soy protein food from the nation of Indonesia. Commonly marinated and fried, tempeh is excellent in stir fries.


  • Soy is an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium and fiber.
  • Soy is a complete protein containing all essential amino acids.
  • 1/2 cup tofu provides 434 mg calcium making it an excellent food to support bone health.
  • Soy is rich in isoflavones daidzin, glycitin and genistin which can help in lowering cholesterol.

Myth Buster: Soy and Breast Cancer: Because soy phytoestrogens have weak estrogen activity, many people avoid eating this nutritious food. According to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, even with estrogen receptor positive breast cancers, it is safe to consume 1-2 servings per day of whole soy foods. The institute does, however, suggest avoiding excessive intake of soy protein isolate. Soy condiments are low in phytoestrogens.

Fun Facts:

  • By 1935, one bushel of soybeans were used in the fabrication of each Ford vehicle in the form of bioplastics.
  • Want to avoid genetically modified foods? Choose organic soy products!

FYI: 77% of global soy is fed to livestock for meat and dairy production. 7% is made into human food products.

Soy and Thyroid Health: According to the Linus Pauling Institute, as long as dietary iodine intake is adequate, soy foods do not increase risk of hypothyroidism or significantly effect circulating thyroid levels!

Click here to check out a delicious recipe for Tofu Bahn Mi Bowls! 

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