Soy – a wide variety of soyfoods


The soy bean is so versatile that a wide variety of soyfoods, based on the whole soy bean, are now available. From soydrink, soy desserts, soy-based alternatives to yoghurt and tofu – soy can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere.

Whole soy beans are a nutritious source of protein, fibre, healthy fats and other plant compounds. Using whole soy beans to make a soyfood has the added advantage of keeping the nutritional goodness of the original soy bean. Examples of whole soyfoods are:

  • Unfermented soyfoods
    • Soydrinks
    • Soydesserts
    • Soy-based alternatives to cream
    • Tofu
    • Soy nuts (roasted soybeans)
    • Edamame (young green soy beans)
  • Fermented soyfoods
    • Soy-based alternatives to yogurt
    • Miso
    • Tempeh
    • Natto

It doesn’t matter if the soyfood is fermented or unfermented, being made from the whole soybean makes them equally nutritious.

Contrary to popular belief, not all soyfoods eaten in the traditional East Asian diet are fermented. China, Hong Kong and Singapore mainly consume unfermented soyfoods, whereas a mixture of both are eaten in Japan, Indonesia and South Korea.

Most soy products available in the EU are made from the whole soy bean using non-GMO soy beans. The basic soydrink is made using a traditional production process that doesn’t involve chemicals but uses only water (to soak the beans), heat and a mechanical process to grind the beans. This basic drink is then used to produce other soyfoods such as flavoured soydrinks, soy desserts and soy-based alternatives to yoghurts and cream.  These products may be fortified with vitamins and calcium, with the fortified soy-based alternatives to dairy being nutritionally equivalent to dairy.

For example, soydrink has a similar nutritional composition to semi-skimmed milk (Table) with the added advantage of being low in saturated fat, naturally lactose free, and a source of vitamin D.

As well as containing the same amount of calcium as cow’s milk, research has shown that the added calcium in calcium fortified soydrink is absorbed just as well as the calcium from cow’s milk. This makes these soyfoods ideal alternatives to dairy in a healthy, balanced, more plant based diet.

Nutritional content

- Lynne Garton

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