Soy is big part of every vegetarian diet. The bean is eaten raw or fermented into a host of valuable foods
Soy Sauce originated in China over 2,500 years ago, It is a very salty condiment made or rather brewed by fermenting soybeans with the mold Aspergillus in the pressence of roasted grain, water, and salt.
Tofu is formed from coagulated soy milk that has been pressed into blocks in a process similar to making cheese from milk.
The processing of the soybean makes them more nutritious. This is because the calcium-containing ingredient that coagulates the soy protein into curds, results in a product that is very high in calcium.
There are two types of Tofu: firm and soft.
Chinese tofu is firm and contains more nutrients than Japanese or soft (silken) tofu. Firm tofu contains a bit more more protein, calcium, iron and niacin than the soft variety. It is also higher in fats and carbohydrate and much lower in sodium.
Miso is made from fermented soybeans and grains like barley and rice. These beans and grains have been fermented by the the fungus, aspergillus oryzae.
Miso is usually prepared as a soup and is high in protein and fiber. It is a very good source for zinc, a mineral deficient in many females and athletes.
Zinc deficiency is believed to decrease appetite and may be one of the causes of anorexia nervosa.
Zinc is involved in protein synthesis and collagen formation. Zinc helps regulate blood sugar levels and is thus useful in controlling diabetes. Miso is also high in sodium.
Nato is a sticky, Japanese breakfast food made by fermenting soybeans with the bacteria natto bacillus.
Natto contains a fibrinolytic enzyme, natokinase, which is thought to prevent blood clots and thereby strokes.
In 1999, the FDA authorized the use of health claims concerning the role of soy protein in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. This was based on the FDA's conclusion that foods containing soy protein and low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.