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Corn+Soybean Digest

Living A Soy-Filled Life

Eileen Greco would put most of us to shame for the lackadaisical way we look at soyfoods and nutrition.

Where many of us would cringe at changing a part of our diets, she's bold.

Where we'd ask, "Why bother?" finding out how much nutrition our dinner holds, she'd answer, "Why not?"

This 80-year-old New Athens, IL, former teacher has used soy flour, textured soy protein (TSP) granules, soy beverage and even tofu for 10 years to maintain a balanced, nutritious diet.

She so believes in soy's virtues that Greco actively promoted the use of soyfoods through her state's soybean board for nearly a decade.

"What a valuable bit of nutrition it has," says Greco, who rents out 300 acres of corn and soybean ground each year.

"I think people should use it for health reasons, if nothing else."

Greco always keeps soy flour on hand to put in muffins, breads and cakes - but not fancy cakes, because the flour is too heavy.

"I always take a fourth of the flour out (of recipes) and add a fourth of soy flour," she says.

She puts soy granules in many of her casseroles as a meat extender - not as a replacement.

"I like the meat flavor; I'm never going to be a vegetarian," admits Greco.

She uses a favorite tofu sherbet recipe and freezes tofu in small bags to pull out and add to various dishes. She snacks on soynuts and just started utilizing soy powder.

Greco is a nutritionist's dream.

"Soyfoods aren't regularly used by everyone," admits Kim Galeaz, nutrition consultant for the Indiana Soybean Board. "Some even refuse to consider them.

"But there is a growing interest in soyfoods overall because of the health benefits," Galeaz adds.

Those benefits include strong scientific evidence that soy helps lower cholesterol, she says. Osteoporosis studies also show that soy may help prevent or slow the disease.

Soy's ability to prevent breast cancer is still up in the air, Galeaz says. And research on postmenopausal symptoms shows soy works for some and not others.

"As a dietitian, I say it is certainly not going to harm you to use soy. And eating more soyfoods benefits us from many angles. No. 1, many soyfoods are lower in total fat than other foods. And lower fat means less saturated fat, too.

"Some soyfoods are good sources of iron and B vitamins and calcium, so you get these valuable new nutrients. Soy is basically a nutrient-dense item," Galeaz explains.

To get more soyfoods into your diet, try "soyifying" your favorite recipes, suggests Elizabeth Gunderson, food consultant for the Minnesota Soybean Association.

"That's taking something you already enjoy and adding soy into it," she says.

Gunderson and Galeaz find soyfoods in nutrition or health foods sections of large supermarkets and natural foods stores. Another option: order soyfoods by mail.

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