Bloomington, Ill. – April, 1 2023 – Join the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) and all soybean growers and consumers across the nation in celebrating Soy Foods Month this April.
The United States is one of the top soybean producing countries in the world. Generally, more than 80 million acres of soybeans are grown in the country each year and Illinois is the number one soybean producing state. Our farmers are dedicated to meeting the world’s demand for this important crop in a sustainable way. Through soil and water conservation, crop rotation, and carbon net neutrality goals, U.S. soybean farmers provide nutritious, versatile, and sustainable food to people across the globe.
“Soy-based foods bring a versatile and cost-effective product to specific food markets by directly using Illinois soybeans,” says Jeff O’Connor, ISA At-Large Director. “The 2023 crop will mark the tenth year that I have grown non-GMO soybeans for the soy foods market. Initially, it was all about the premiums being offered adding to my farms’ bottom line. But through hosting buyers and manufacturers on the farm and listening to their stories, I’ve since grown to appreciate the value these soybean varieties bring to the consumer market.”
Soy is praised for its health benefits, including its ability to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol. Its protein and oil (both conventional and high oleic varieties) carry heart health claims from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that states twenty-five grams of soy protein or 20.5 grams of soybean oil daily as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. In addition to heart health benefits, soy foods may also improve cognitive function, lower blood pressure, enhance muscle and bone health, and reduce risk of some cancers.
Another one of soy’s strengths is its versatility. From more traditional soy foods like tofu, edamame, and tempeh to modern soy foods such as plant-based meat alternatives and soy protein bars, there is a soy product for every palate. It’s also commonly used as an ingredient in snack foods like potato chips cooked in soybean oil and chocolate bars where soy lecithin is used as a stabilizer and flavor protector.
Celebrate Soy Foods Month by incorporating more of this high-quality protein into your diet. Here are a few ideas:
- Try new soy foods! Tofu isn’t the only soy-based food at the grocery store. Enjoy popping edamame out of the pods for a snack or add some protein into your pancakes with soy flour.
- Simple swaps: Start your day with a soy-based yogurt or serve soymilk with your favorite breakfast cereal. Fortified soymilk is the only non-dairy plant milk recommended by recent U.S. Dietary Guidelines as a suitable alternative to cow’s milk.
- Seek out soy on the label: Most vegetable oil on store shelves is 100 percent soybean oil. Soybean oil is recognized for its heart health benefits, and it also has a neutral flavor and high heat stability, making it an excellent choice for cooking, baking, sautéing, and more.
For more information about soy foods please visit ilsoy.org/sustainablegood.
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and government relations efforts, while the membership program, Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG) and the Illinois Soybean Growers PAC actively advocates for positive and impactful legislation for farmers at local, state and national levels. ISA upholds the interests of Illinois soybean farmers through promotion, advocacy, research and education with the vision of becoming a trusted partner of Illinois soybean farmers to ensure their profitability now and for future generations.