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Soy is a hot topic these days. Whether you are trying to include it for its health benefits or you like it for its versatility, soy is one of those things that you should have in your kitchen. Whether it's in the form of soy milk, tofu, edamamé or even soy nuts, including two servings of soy in your daily diet has become a frequent recommendation of doctors everywhere. And there is good reason for that recommendation:
In the study of 120 Asian women, those who consumed the highest amount of soy had the most protection from breast cancer -- up to a 50% reduced risk -- compared to those women who consumed the least amount of soy.
The American Heart Association recently concluded that 25-50 grams of soy a day can help lower levels of LDL or "bad" cholesterol by as much as 8%. Isoflavones are believed to prevent LDL levels from harming the walls of the blood vessels. While man-made estrogens can raise levels of blood fats called triglycerides, soy doesn't have this negative effect.
A study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, found that postmenopausal women with high concentrations of soy in their diet had stronger bones.
A recent issue of the Mayo Health Clinic Health Letter noted that studies on soy have shown promising results in the prevention of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and hot flashes during menopause, as well as benefits for osteoporosis.
One study involving more than 12,000 men indicated that drinking soy milk at least once a day was associated with a 70% reduction in the risk of prostate cancer. Research on soy and the prevention of colon cancer has also produced encouraging results.
But even with this kind of encouraging news, many people are unsure how to incorporate soy products into their kitchen routine. But with many products and variations available today, there are many ways to enjoy soy without feeling like you've lost touch with your favorite foods. It can be as simple as adding some roasted soy nuts to your favorite trail mix or making a simple rice pudding with soy milk instead of dairy. Even creamy dressings can take advantage of silken tofu that's been tossed around in the food processor!
Of course, that's certainly not the end of soy's place at our culinary table. In fact, to give you a taste of where soy foods can be found, here's a sampling of recipes. Some hide it in ways that would surprise you and others make it the star of the show. Try a few out and see how you can enjoy soy for its health benefits, versatility and taste.
Serve this delightfully textured dip with pita wedges and fresh vegetables.
2 cloves garlic
1 block silken tofu
1 can chickpeas -- drained, liquid reserved
2 T. sesame paste
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
2 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Paprika, olive oil and fresh parsley for garnish -- optional
Place the garlic in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the tofu, chickpeas and sesame paste and process until smooth. Gradually add the parsley, olive oil and seasonings and process again. Sprinkle paprika and parsley over the hummus and drizzle with olive oil before serving.