The soybean is becoming ubiquitous. Despite being a native of East Asia, did you know that the US is its primary producer, growing 32% of the world’s supply? Farmed in China for over 5,000 years, this unassuming little green bean (oilseed, technically), has become a powerhouse of nutrition, packing more protein punch than any other vegetable and giving rise to such vegetarian favorites as tofu, tempeh, soy sauce, miso and soy milk. It’s a major component of animal feed, and it’s popularity is only on the rise. So what should you know about the soy bean, what facts should you arm yourself with?
- Soy beans contain compounds called phytoestrogen, and this has caused a lot of alarm in male circles due to its basically being the female version of the female sex hormone estrogen. When this became known, body builders everywhere swore of soy beans for life. But have no fear! It’s been shown that phytoestrogen does not act like estrogen in the male body. It simply doesn’t work that way. So go ahead and eat as much soy as you want–it won’t affect your muscle mass or testosterone levels.
- Let’s talk nutrition facts. One cup of edamame beans (boiled soybeans) contains 298 calories, 17 grams of carbs, 29 grams of protein, and 15 grams of fat. One scoop of protein powder contains 120 calories, 1 gram of carbs, 25 grams of protein, and 1.5 grams of fat.
- Soy is an excellent source of antioxidants. No, seriously. I know everything seems to be these days, but soybeans pack a punch. To get maximum benefits, try eating some soy protein powder before and after a workout, adding it on a 1:1 ratio to your whey.
- Know why soy was used by the Chinese, 5,000 years ago? To help put nitrogen back in the soil. I know, pretty advanced for 5,000 years ago, but still, there you have it. Which means eating it helps boost your nitricoxide levels, which increases blood flow to muscles and growth-hormone levels. Which is nice, if you want to get healthy and strong, you know?
- ALSO a good source of alpha-Linolenic acid. Yum! Don’t know what alpha-Linolenic acid is? It’s an essential fatty acid (which means you can’t make it yourself), commonly derived from vegetable sources like flaxseed, hemp, and yes, soybeans. alpha-Linolenic acid has been demonstrated to lower your chances of cardiovascular disease, which again, is really quite nice. So eat some!