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    Archive for the ‘edamame’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Edamame vs. Canned Soybeans

    edamame_1955[The other day you tweeted that the healthiest forms of soy are edamame and tempeh.]

    How does edamame compare to canned or dried soybeans?

    — Robert Portinga
    (Location unknown)

    Since edamame is an immature soybean, it — just like the fermented soybeans that make up tempeh — contains lower amounts of compounds in soy that interfere with mineral absorption.

    Consequently, the iron, zinc, and calcium in edamame is more available than it is in matured soybeans, whether they are canned or dried.

    That said, whole soybeans are still a much better way to consume soy than in its highly processed forms (i.e.: soy protein isolate or soybean oil).

    In the soy podium, tempeh gets the gold medal, edamame gets silver, and mature soybeans get bronze.

    While miso is also fermented soy, and healthy in its own right, it is consumed in such small quantities (i.e.: one teaspoon added to a recipe that serves four) that I didn’t consider it for the podium.

    PS: Homemade edamame hummus is delicious!


    Numbers Game: Answer

    891318One cup of cooked Swiss chard contains as much potassium as two medium bananas.

    FYI: The United States Department of Agriculture classifies medium bananas as those measuring anywhere from 7 to 8 inches.

    Score another point for dark, leafy green vegetables.

    Remember — they already get kudos for being good sources of calcium and vitamin K — two crucial nutrients for bone health.

    While most people equate potassium with bananas (and that’s not too off-the-mark; bananas are a good source of that mineral), other foods provide higher amounts.

    A medium banana contains approximately 420 milligrams of potassium (roughly ten percent of the daily requirement).  One cup of cooked Swiss chard, meanwhile, contributes 961 milligrams (slightly over a quarter of a day’s worth!).

    Take a look at these other potassium-rich foods that are often forgotten:

    • Spinach (1 cup, cooked): 835 milligrams
    • Lentils (1 cup, cooked): 731 milligrams
    • Edamame (1 cup): 676 milligrams
    • Nutritional yeast (3 Tablespoons): 640 milligrams
    • Baked potato (medium, with skin): 610 milligrams
    • Halibut (3 ounces, cooked): 490 milligrams

    A good list to keep in mind, particularly since the majority of adults in the United States do not meet daily potassium requirements.


    You Ask, I Answer: Tofu Concerns

    iron-source-edamame-soybeans-lgI am a vegetarian and eat tofu, but I am hearing two things about tofu that are bothering me.

    1) Tofu has large amounts of antibiotics or other additives dangerous to the human body.

    2) In order to make tofu and fulfill the global need for tofu, the Brazilians have undertaken an incredible rate of slash and burn to clear fields to make way for planting of soybeans.

    What are your thoughts?

    — Barlow Humphreys
    Westchester, NY

    1) Tofu does not contain antibiotics.

    The use of antibiotics only comes into play with animals that have them mixed into their feed.

    Non-organic tofu contains pesticides, but there are no “dangerous additives” in soy products.

    2) Brazil is one of the world’s top producers of soy.

    It is certainly true that the increased demand for soy (along with corporate-owned genetically modified soy crops that can practically grow anywhere) have led to a staggering amount of deforestation there.

    That said (and please do not take this to mean I am dismissing that as unimportant) — meat production takes an even larger toll on the environment, as it requires the use of more land, significantly more water usage, and creates a larger amount of waste.

    One way to “pitch in”, from an environmental standpoint, is to purchase soy products made exclusively from soybeans that are not genetically modified, since non-GMO soybeans are usually grown more responsibly.

    Although over 90 percent of the world’s soybeans are genetically modified, most of those are used to make soy by-products (ie: soybean oil, soy protein isolate) used in processed food.

    When it comes to soy products, I recommend prioritizing tempeh (fermented soy) and edamame (picture alongside this post), as these are the most nutritious and less processed varieties.

    Next on the list are tofu and soy-based dairy products.

    Processed foods made largely with soy protein isolates (ie: soy chips, soy bars, soy burgers, soy protein powders) should be considered “occasional treats”.

    Soy can only be considered a health food when it is consumed in a minimally processed form.  A sprinkle of soy dust on a corn chip is hype, not health.


    You Ask, I Answer: Soy

    I have heard some forms of soy (i.e.: the fermented kinds) are more healthy than others.

    I have also heard tofu is basically a processed product “cut” with the equivalent of plaster of Paris.

    Soy and soy-based products are tooted by the supposed health conscious community as wonder foods, and i think people are often misinformed in regards to soy products being healthy.

    For instance: those faux chicken patties. How can something so processed be healthy?

    Wouldn’t a person be better off choosing an organic grain-fed chicken breast over something of this nature? likewise, organic soymilk [unsweetened of course] vs organic milk??

    And what about soy estrogens???

    — Brooke Green
    Brooklyn, NY

    Thank you for bringing up the issue of “wonder foods.”

    Although certain foods are more nutritious than others (quinoa surpasses white bread, for example,) I think it is dangerous to label anything as a “wonder food.”

    Such a term inaccurately suggests such foods can be eaten in unlimited amounts.

    Remember — all calories, regardless of the source, add up.

    Extra virgin olive oil certainly has its health benefits, but drowning a salad in 4 tablespoons of it adds 500 calories.

    Anyhow, the key with soy — like with any other food — is to mainly consume it as minimally processed as possible.

    This applies to other foods as well. Take potatoes as an example. It is obviously better to consume them baked and with their skin than out of a Pringles tube.

    So, tempeh (fermented tofu) and edamame offer more nutrition than a processed soy product that could very well contain added sugars, excess sodium, and trans fat.

    This can also be equated to whole grains.

    Some people think a whole grain cookie is automatically healthier than a standard cookie. Not necessarily.

    If the whole grain cookie has twice the calories, sugar, and trans fat of the standard cookie, the whole grain benefit is thwarted.

    I consider the issue of faux chicken patties versus organic chicken breasts to be more about personal ethics than nutrition.

    I think many people choosing faux meats do so out of a personal decision to not eat meat, rather than from a “what is less processed?” angle.

    Keep in mind, though, that many times meat-based frozen products are nutritionally inferior to soy-based ones.

    As far as tofu is concerned — it is one thing to eat “tofu hot dogs” (which are highly processed and thereby high in sodium and chock full of preservatives,) but cubes of regular tofu (pictured, right) thrown into a vegetable stir fry is a great way for vegetarians to get protein, calcium, and Omega-3 fatty acids.

    As for the soy-based estrogens, the only people who should be concerned are women living with breast cancer who consume four or more servings of soy on a daily basis.

    Otherwise, there is absolutely no research showing that one or two daily servings of soy in a healthy individual poses any sort of health risk.

    I don’t recommend gobbling down oodles of soy every day because it contributes quite a bit of Omega 6 fatty acids to the diet (which in itself is not bad, but the typical US diet provides way too much of it and not enough Omega 3’s — nowhere near the ideal ratio.)


    Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing: Snap Pea Crisps

    Recent public interest in nutrition and an increased demand for convenient snacks has led to an array of products looking to successfully combine both in a tasty package.

    Some, like Crispy Delites have pulled this off quite well by dehydrating vegetables and adding just a pinch of oil and salt.

    The result is a low-calorie snack that skimps on the fat but offers a fair amount of potassium and other naturally-occurring nutrients.

    Snapea Crisps, however, leave quite a bit to be desired.

    You wouldn’t be inclined to think badly of these crisps based on the advertising.

    “SnapeaCrisps deliver the pea’s natural nutrients in their entirety,” reads the product’s website.

    The company is named SnackSalad, purposefully associating in-between-meals munching with a food commonly perceived as healthy and nutritious.

    Additionally, the word “baked” is prominently featured on the package.

    The website even relies on food history to build up their product.

    “Peas have been an important part of the human diet for approximately 8,000 years,” they say.

    What they forget to mention is that peas have not been available in a bag and consumed in chip form for the past 7,985 years.

    A one-ounce serving of this snack contains 150 calories and 8 grams of fat.

    An ounce of Lay’s regular potato chips? 150 calories and 10 grams of fat.

    Am I missing something?

    If you’re looking for a salty snack truly packed with nutrition, boil some frozen edamame in a pot, sprinkle salt on top, and munch away. It’s certainly a quick, easy, no mess, low-calorie, low-fat, high-fiber, high-protein treats!

    A half cup of it, by the way, delivers 100 calories, 3 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of protein.

    If it’s a matter of chips or death, I suggest reaching for a tasty and satisfying 100-calorie bag of Kettle Bakes.


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