10 Reasons Soyfoods Are In Demand
Soyfoods have long been an integral part of Asian cuisine, and are now growing in popularity with American consumers as well. Soy offers versatility, culinary attributes, health benefits, convenience and affordability. Soyfoods also fit into many current food trends, building on the popularity of world cuisines, the rise of plant protein, and the prevalence of functional foods. The public education initiative of the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) has brought new prominence to U.S.-grown food grade soybeans and continues to provide updates on the state of the industry. Here are ten reasons why soyfoods are in demand.
- The U.S. takes soy seriously. The U.S. is currently the world’s largest soybean producer. Food-grade soybeans are grown throughout a wide geographic region of the country. American growers and researchers continue to respond to global needs by developing and growing soybean varieties that meet consumer demands and tastes around the world.
- Soy is a nutrition powerhouse. In the U.S., consumers currently enjoy soy as a fresh vegetable dish in the form of edamame, and as a protein-providing legume that can be eaten in the same ways as other types of canned beans. One serving of soy—such as soymilk, soy nuts, edamame, TSP (Textured Soy Protein) or tofu—offers approximately 7 to 15 grams of protein.
- Soybean oil reigns. It is the most widely produced and most commonly consumed vegetable oil in the United States, accounting for more than half of all U.S. vegetable oil consumption. It is an excellent choice for heart-healthy diets because of its low saturated fat content and high polyunsaturated fat content, and provides the culinary advantages of having a higher smoke point and a neutral taste.
- Soyfoods offer ethnic authenticity. Soy ingredients are integral parts of many popular and emerging world cuisines, including Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Malaysian and Laotian. Ingredients include condiments like soy sauce and miso (fermented soybean paste popular in Japanese cooking), as well as plant proteins like tofu, and versatile fermented foods such as tempeh (the high protein fermented soybean cake prominent in Indonesian cuisine).
- Soyfoods are plant protein stars. Soy protein provides all of the essential amino acids in the amounts needed for health, without the large amount of saturated fat that typically comes with animal sources of protein. According to Datassential research, 49 percent of consumers embrace plant-based eating because they feel it’s healthier, 39 percent want to experiment with something new, and 22 percent are trying to eat less meat and dairy. Soyfoods offer all three advantages.
- Soymilk stands out among plant-based milks. Nutritionally speaking, soymilk has it all. In fact, it is specifically mentioned in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, “Soy beverages fortified with calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D, are included as part of the dairy group because they are similar to milk, based on nutrient composition and in their use in meals.”
- Soyfoods suit contemporary lifestyles. Soyfoods are inexpensive, offer shelf-stable choices and are readily available ingredients in grocery stores. Due to their versatility, soy ingredients allow for personalized diets, such as dairy-free, low cholesterol, vegan diets and protein-rich diets. For example, TSP (Textured Soy Protein) can be easily incorporated into familiar recipes such as chili to boost the nutrition content while maintaining the flavor and texture of the original recipe. Consumers can easily replace dairy milk with soymilk in coffee drinks, make salad dressings with silken tofu, add TSP to marinara sauce, replace canned black beans with black soybeans in chili, or replace up to 40 percent of the wheat flour with soy flour to add protein to favorite cookie recipes.
- Soyfoods appeal to health-conscious consumers. When it comes to wellness, research has demonstrated the various health benefits offered by soyfoods. Eating two servings of soyfoods per day can reduce the risk of diseases including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
- Soyfoods are functional foods. In other words, they appeal to those who seek out functional foods that may have a positive effect on their health in addition to offering nutrition benefits. According to Datassential research, more than three-quarters of consumers want more functional foods and beverages at restaurants, and 80 percent want them at retail, with heart health being one of the top motivators. Functional foods include fermented products like tempeh and miso, as well as nutrient-dense superfoods, including legumes such as soybeans that have a healthy halo.
- Soyfoods make for snackworthy choices. Soyfoods are a better-for-you option for the country’s growing number of snack-eaters. Convenient soy snacks include soynut butter, edamame, energy bars with soy protein, snack mixes incorporating soynuts or dried edamame, soymilk and soy yogurt. The Technomic 2018 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report notes that approximately 80 percent of consumers report they snack at least once a day. Soyfoods provide sustained energy and make it easy to enjoy more healthful, satisfying snacks. Some soyfoods also offer dietary fiber that contributes to a healthy gastrointestinal system. One serving of soybeans provides approximately 8 grams of dietary fiber.