Fermented soybeans contain a variety of nutrients that offer many health benefits, and foods made from fermented soy are high in probiotics, amino acids and enzymes. The practice of fermenting foods is not a modern technique, and ancient civilizations were consuming fermented foods 5000 years ago. Today, some cultures rely on fermented foods to make up 40% of their entire diet, and fermented soy beans are a firm staple in many different countries.
Eating fermented soy is one of many ways to add healthy protein to your diet and is a great choice for vegetarians and vegans. Unfermented soy can cause problems with digestion and overall health; however, fermented soy provides safe nourishment and healthy gut nutrients as a result of the fermentation process. Be sure to buy only organic, non-GMO products when shopping for fermented soy.
Natto is a traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soy that is high in vitamin K2. According to Our World, the website for United Nations University, it is very high in protein, and the Japanese usually prepare it as a breakfast dish. Vitamin K2 helps to strengthen the bones and can help to guard against diseases such osteoporosis.
Tempe has become a popular health food in the US and can be made from almost any type of legume, but the original form that comes from Indonesia is typically made from fermented soy. The fermentation process is helped along by a fungus known as Rhizopus Oligosporus that helps to create the finished product. You can purchase prepared Tempe at a number of different health food stores made from soy and also rice, and an increasing number of recipes utilize Tempe as a main ingredient and an excellent vegetarian protein source.
Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans that is very popular in Asian cuisine, and is available in a number of different strengths and colors. According to the National Soybean Research Laboratory, red miso is the most common variety used for soups and sauces, and light miso is used to add a more delicate flavor to certain dishes. Miso should be used sparingly due to its high sodium content, and those suffering from high blood pressure or kidney disease should consult their healthcare practitioners before consuming it. Aspergillus oryzae is the fermenting agent used to create miso, and is responsible for its distinctive taste.
Soy sauce is one of the oldest condiments in existence and originated in China more than 2,500 years ago. Known also as Shoyu, it is made by combining soybeans and flour and forming the mixture into small cakes. Asperigillus oryzae is then added to begin the fermenting process and a number of other fermenting agents as well as water and salt are also added to the mix. Soy sauce is possibly the most well-known example of a fermented soy product, and can be used to add flavor to soups, sauces, fish and meat dishes. Commercial brands often add MSG, a flavor enhancer and preservative to soy sauce. Shop carefully to find brands that mark their labels with No-MSG.
University of Hawaii: Fungi in Manufacturing of Food
Our World 2.0 — United Nations University: Benefits of Traditional Fermented Foods
National Soybean Research Laboratory — NSRL: Soy Foods Glossary
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