Before we even consider soy’s health-promoting abilities, let’s take a brief look at its other, often overlooked plus: It is an excellent protein alternative.
For example, a half-cup of tofu provides 18 to 20 grams of protein, which is 39 to 43 percent of a daily requirement for adult women. That same amount of tofu also provides 258 milligrams of calcium (more than a quarter of our daily needs) and 13 milligrams of iron (87 percent of a woman’s daily need and 130 percent of a man’s).
Here’s a comparison of the percentage of protein by weight of a few foods:
- Soy flour is 51 percent protein
- Whole, dry soybeans are 35 percent protein
- Fish is only 22 percent protein
- Hamburger is only 13 percent protein
- Whole milk is just 3 percent protein.
Why to Eat Soy Protein Instead of Meat Once in a While
Substituting 15 grams of soy protein for 15 grams of animal protein would cause the current U.S. dietary ratio of animal-to-plant protein — which is currently a two-to-one ration — to a more desirable one-to-one, the ratio it was in the early 1900s. At this level of intake, soy protein would still represent less than 20 percent of the average protein intake of U.S. adults.
In addition to the high-quality protein you get when you substitute soy for animal protein, you get a bonus of vitamins, minerals, and a good dose of phytonutrients.
Soy offers the highest-quality protein of any plant food. Available in organic forms (and therefore free of any pesticides or other additives), it offers all nine essential amino acids and is a good source of plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids.
So even if you only relied on soy as a meat substitute a couple of times a week, you’d be ahead of the game!