soy beans for protein

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The Best All-Purpose Alternative to Chicken
What it is: Soy

How much protein you get: One cup of cooked edamame has about 17 grams of protein (in comparison, a 3-oz standard serving of chicken has about 25 grams). In tofu form, a half-cup of soy has about 10 grams.

Why it's great: Soybeans are the only plant food that are considered a "complete protein," which means they provide all the essential amino acids in the amounts needed for good health, says Sumner Brooks, RDN, founder of Not on a Diet. There's a reason vegetarians love soy: Tofu can rival chicken in stir-frys, and tempeh (which is compressed soy) is a ground-beef doppelganger in chili and sauces. Try roasted soybeans with pumpkin seeds for a convenient, filling, high-protein snack.

One more thing: Processed soy foods, like veggie burgers or soy dogs, are often made with soy protein isolate (SPI). While you are getting protein, this means that you're not getting soy's other nutrients or its soluble fiber, explains Brooks (and because of the way the protein is isolated, you could be getting other unnatural chemicals instead).