Soybean is a versatile food that offers an abundance of nutrients such as protein along with dietary fiber, isoflavones, B vitamins, fiber, iron, calcium, and zinc, etc. These nutrients make soybeans a nutritious food that can benefit overall health and well being. Soy-based products such as tofu, soy milk, tempeh and miso (made from fermented soybeans), are all considered as good sources of protein and nutritious (soy provides a complete source of dietary protein, meaning that, unlike most plant proteins, it contains all the essential amino acids), but soy nuggets or chunks get a bad rap for a few reasons. Soya nuggets have emerged as a meat substitute and vegetarian protein source, but there’s a lot of confusion whether soy chunks can be consumed on a daily basis to meet protein demands. Also called, texturized vegetable protein, soya chunks were introduced in India around 1972. It’s made from defatted soya flour, which is a by-product of oil extraction from soybeans. According to an online source, 100 grams of uncooked soya chunks can have up to 345 calories with 52 grams of protein content, but this protein comes with its own issues. In this article, we will be talking about soya chunks and whether they would fit into a weight loss diet or not.
How Soy Chunks are Made?
Soya chunks are made from defatted soya flour. It’s the residual by-product after extraction of soybean oil. The process of extracting soybean oil involves crushing the soybeans and then using solvents, such as hexane, to extract the oil from the crushed beans. After the oil is extracted, what remains is a solid material called soybean meal. This soybean meal is then further processed to create defatted soy flour. Defatted soy flour is a type of flour that has had most of the fat removed from it. This is achieved by grinding and sifting the soybean meal to remove the fat, leaving behind a high-protein, low-fat flour. Defatted soy flour is often used in a variety of food products, such as baked goods, meat alternatives, and protein supplements. It is a popular ingredient because it is low in fat, high in protein, and relatively inexpensive. Also read: “How To Lose Weight as a Vegetarian.”
Issues with Soy Chunks:
1. A lot of people are allergic to soy and soy-based products. This proteins in the soy bind to specific IgE antibodies and trigger an immune response, and the symptoms that can be mild or very severe. If you are allergic to soy-based products, then soya nuggets are not for you.
2. The source of soy can be an issue, there’s a concern soya nuggets mostly come from GMO (genetically-modified) soya crops. Some studies have suggested that GMO soy may pose health risks, such as increased allergenicity, toxicity, and antibiotic resistance (further research is required in this area to fully understand the potential health effects of GMO soy). GMO soy is often produced using large amounts of pesticides and herbicides, which can have negative environmental impacts. (The weeds may develop resistance to herbicides over time and may require higher amounts of herbicides such as glyphosate and perhaps other herbicides to keep them in check, and this means that herbicide-tolerant crops (i.e., genetically modified crops such as soy) will be exposed to higher levels of herbicides as well.) Therefore, do make sure the source of soya nuggets is organic and has not involved extensive use of pesticides and insecticides.
3. Soy products have isoflavones, a type of plant estrogen (phytoestrogen) that is similar in function to human estrogen and believed to cause hormonal imbalance, thyroid imbalance, and higher uric acid levels in the body. Soy contains compounds called phytoestrogens, which are plant-based compounds that can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. However, the effect of these phytoestrogens on the body is much weaker than the effect of the estrogen, and has very little impact on the body.
4. The making of soya nuggets involves chemicals and undergoes a lot of processing, and that’s a major concern. While trying to lose weight, we should cut down the consumption of processed food as much as possible and stick to organic foods as much as possible.
5. Soya nuggets are high in calories, there are 345 calories in 100 gm of soy nuggets. Portion control is essential to stay within calorie deficit. Portion control is an essential aspect of maintaining a calorie deficit because consuming too many calories, even from healthy foods, can prevent weight loss. When you eat more calories than your body needs, your body stores the excess energy as fat, leading to weight gain. So, even when trying to meet your protein requirements, do keep a watch on calories.
Summing up, it’s okay to consume 25 to 30 gm of soya nuggets, but to depend on these nuggets to reach your protein requirement would be a bad idea. You can whip up some delicious recipes like soya pulao, soya biryani, soya veg mix curry, are all good options to try without going overboard. Other than soya nuggets, chickpeas, paneer, dal, quinoa, peanuts, etc. are all good vegetarian sources of protein.
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