Soy-based foods have long held a special place in the natural foods world. From the simple soybean comes a variety of foods, including tofu, miso, tempeh, tamari, soy milk and edamame. Soy foods have become increasingly popular in the U.S. because of their high protein content, positive effects on heart health, and isoflavone content. Isoflavones are powerful plant chemicals with clear health benefits.

Shopping for Soy-Based Foods at Whole Foods Market

Soy has been traditionally prepared and consumed in a fermented form (miso, tamari, and tempeh). Fermenting soy reduces the quantities of phytic acid (which can interfere with the absorption of minerals like calcium, iron and zinc) and renders the soy more digestible, in addition to providing beneficial microorganisms.

As an alternative source of protein, soy is especially appealing to those following vegetarian and vegan diets. It is a good source of complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. However, many experts have cautioned that soy, like all foods, is best consumed in moderation. These experts recommend that vegetarians and vegans seek additional sources of protein.