I'd like some basic information on soy products and how to include them in my diet. —E.F., Hobbs, New Mexico
Soybeans are made into many food products, and soybean products can be good sources of a variety of nutrients. When compared with many other legumes, soybeans have more protein and calcium, yet they’re lower in complex carbohydrates. Common food products include soy milk, soy flour and tofu. Soy milk is a nondairy beverage made from crushed, cooked soybeans. It is a good source of protein but has less calcium than cow’s milk unless it has been calcium-fortified. Soy flour has a higher protein and lower carbohydrate content than wheat flour. In baking, it is best mixed with other flours. Tofu is the processed bean curd. With a soft texture and bland taste, it’s best mixed into stir-fries, casseroles, chili and other dishes where it can take on other flavors. While the positive benefits of soy are exciting and most of us would benefit from one or two servings a day, there are no magic foods to protect us against disease. A healthy diet includes an assortment of good foods. And a good diet is only one component of a healthy lifestyle.