1 January 2007

Low GI Food of the Month

Did you know that legumes are the only food group associated with longevity? Accredited Practising Dietitian Sue Radd says that ‘what is truly remarkable is that all the longest living societies are into some sort of bean, whereas the chronically ill in Western countries often don't even know what a legume looks like!’ Soybeans (GI 14 canned; GI 18 home cooked) and soy products are the nutritional powerhouse of the legume family. They come in various colours, shapes and sizes; are used to make miso, tofu, soy drinks and tempeh; have been a staple part of Asian diets for thousands of years; and are an excellent source of protein. They’re also rich in fibre, iron, zinc and vitamin B. Soybeans are lower in carbohydrate and higher in fat than other legumes, but the majority of the fat is polyunsaturated. They are a rich source of phytochemicals, especially phytoestrogens, and have been linked with improvements in blood cholesterol levels, relief from menopausal symptoms and lower rates of cancer in many studies. Soak dry soybeans overnight in plenty of water and use them to make soups, stews and casseroles, or mash them when cooked and use in burgers or as a base for dips.


Green soybeans also called edamame (not GI tested as yet) are fresh, bright green soybeans in their pod. You can buy them fresh or frozen from Asian produce stores. You can serve them at home as a side dish or toss into a pasta, risotto or stir fry. Sue Radd, an authority on phytoestrogens, has many wonderful soybean (and soy product) recipes in her book Eat to Live, which she co-authored with Prof. Kenneth Setchell from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre and the University of Cincinnati. To order, check out Sue’s website: www.sueradd.com. Here are her irresistible Roasted Soy Nuts – the perfect snack (a small handful will stay the pangs) or addition to salads.

Roasted soy nuts
Makes 3 cups

2 cups soybeans
1 teaspoon soybean or canola oil
1 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander (cilantro)
pinch salt, optional
pinch hot ground chilli, optional

  • Cover the soybeans with plenty of water and soak overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Drain soybeans and spread out on two non-stick oven trays. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the soybeans are golden brown. Remove from the oven and place in a mixing bowl.
  • Heat the oil and drizzle over the soybeans. Mix well so that each soybean is coated. Sprinkle the soybeans with the ground spices, mixing well. Adjust to taste with salt and chilli. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for later use.
Nutritional analysis per serving (¼ cup)
Energy 538 kJ/128 Cal; 6 g fat (includes saturated fat 1 g); 3 g fibre; 11 g protein; 9 g carbohydrate; low GI


Dave Burley said...

Soybeans are inherently unhealthy. The best way to overcome this is with a health claim and ignore all the other facts.

Read "Soybeans can damage your health"


Pat Kelly said...

Okay, I read the post suggested by Dave. Who is correct?? Now I am totally confused. Does anyone know what is the truth?? I would like to know.

Anonymous said...

nancy said

I read the article suggested by Dave. I now know why my daughter is short and entered puberty early. She had an allery to cow's milk so we put her on soy milk. I know that I will skip any kind of soy from now on.

Anna Robinson said...

The authors of the article Dave suggested are correct in many ways, but they are overstating things. Judging by their language, I do not believe them to be impartial.
*The haemagglutinin and trypsin inhibitors in soy are inactivated by proper cooking. If you are worried about how to do this, buy pre-cooked soy products.
*If you are worried about GM or pesticides in soy, buy only organic non-GM soy products - there are lots of these here in the UK.
*The phytic acid in soy is only a problem if your diet is already low in minerals and you consume vast quantities of soy.
*If you are worried about soy protein isolate being high in aluminum, low in nutrients etc, use only 'whole bean' soy products. Again, there are lots of these on the market.
*The other issues, such as the presence of goitrogens or possible toxicity from isoflavones, should also only be a problem if a person consumes abnormally large quantities of soy. It is never healthy to base your diet on any one food - most foods contain substances that are toxic in excess.
* There's no room here to discuss all the studies the authors cite. Suffice to say, current scientific opinion does not agree with many of the conclusions the authors have drawn.

I should say that I have no connection with the soy industry - I researched the nutritional properties of soy when I became a vegan 10 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Dec Issue of Nexus article by Prof
Brian Scott Peskin states briefly

Soy is bad for thyroid.
FDA lists 288 records of soy on its
"FDA Poisonous Plant Data Base"
Candian Journal of Biochemistry 1975 stated soy weakens the immune system.

The article explains the involved
process on why this happens.

Denis Bainbridge

Anonymous said...

Go to www.scienceofhealthindex.com/soy.html
for more information on the problems
caused by soy and its various products.

The description of soy milk production is an eyeopener.

All of my natural health advisors tell me to keep away from soy.

Denis Bainbridge

Anonymous said...

What is the GI Group saying about this? Ed

gi group said...

We have referred these comments to our soybean guru and will post a reply as soon as possible.

sue radd said...

Be careful about swallowing anti-soy claims made by Mercola and published in Nexus mag. These are not new. They have done the rounds many times and are sadly out-of-date and quote studies selectively to bash the humble little bean without real justification. The authors are also not recognised experts in the area of soy specifically, nor have they published any original research in this field. Check out PubMed (US National Library of Medicine) (FREE) for yourself…

The truth is, soybeans (as well as other legumes) are one of the healthiest foods you can eat! The overwhelming majority of research studies suggest many potential and some confirmed health benefits. Very few foods have been scrutinized to such a degree. Soybeans, and legumes in general, contain a range of phytonutrients, which are also found in other whole plant foods such as nuts/seeds (especially linseeds), wholegrains, sprouts (like alfa alfa) and fruits and vegetables. The irony is that we used to call these ‘anti-nutrients’ in the 70’s as we were concerned back then, based on limited data, about their effect on reducing mineral absorption. This has subsequently been shown not to be an issue for humans who have a varied diet and ample access to a food supply. Interestingly, these compounds are now being researched for their anti-cancer properties among other things e.g. phytic acid (which is also found abundantly in wholegrains but not in refined grains) seems to be beneficial in fighting colon cancer. Just goes to show that having a little information and knowledge, without seeing the whole picture, can be dangerous. In the laboratory, if you manipulate study conditions, you can achieve negative results for a given food (or its ingredients) and soy is no exception. For example, injecting rats who have had their ovaries ripped out and their immune systems destroyed, with high doses of genistein, will stimulate the growth of transplanted breast cancer cells. But feeding healthy rats with diets containing soy foods actually protects and delays against the development of cancer. Reassuringly, the population based evidence in humans (which are also a ‘closed’ and truly complicated system) points to better health outcomes when soy is eaten regularly as part of the diet.

If anyone has concerns about consuming soybeans and soy foods they should also stop eating other plant foods since these will provide the same range of phytonutrients, although some in lower doses depending on the plant species. However, this would be ludicrous and bad advice since current evidence suggests it is the actual presence of these compounds and their collective load that may explain the better health statistics of people eating plant-based and vegetarian diets.

If anything, one should be concerned about consuming too much meat (especially red and processed meats, the use of growth hormone in cattle, the pollution of our waterways and therefore fish, with xenoestrogens and heavy metals), not to mention the hazards of factory farming to the health of animals and therefore potentially to the humans that ingest their flesh, rather than eating more beans!

As the Koreans told me on one of my three visits to Sth Korea where they include small amounts of soy regularly throughout the day, “Soybean is the meat from the soil”. This food is highly prized and the black soybean has been used traditionally for medicinal purposes due to its higher level of phytonutrients.

The majority of qualified health professionals and scientific experts working in the field such as doctors, dietitians, nutritionists and naturopaths (including the late Nancy Beckham who was also one of Australia’s most highly respected herbalists) actually promote a greater use of unrefined plant foods, including legumes such as soybeans. These also get a particular mention in the dietary guidelines.

Sue Radd, Accredited Practising Dietitian & Nutritionist

gi group said...

We asked dietitian Sue Radd for some websites she would recommend to GI News readers who want to find out more about soy. Here they are:
Soy Connection newsletter - www.talksoy.com
Soy Nutrition – www.soynutrition.com
The Soy Story - www.soyfacts.com.au

The Soy Connection newsletter is written by independent health experts, although it is funded by farmer checkoff dollars in the US. Each issue focuses on a different topic.

Soy Nutrition is a website developed by Silk, a manufacturer of soy milk in the world.

The Soy Story is the website from Sanitarium and endorsed by ISAB.