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Are Soy Beans a Starch?

By Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.

Soy beans are used to make a variety of meatless soy products, are popular among vegetarians and may provide certain health benefits when consumed. According to the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, soy may help lower your bad low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol or help reduce hot flashes in menopausal women. All foods consist of carbohydrates or starch, protein, fat or combinations of these. People with diabetes and people trying to lose weight may consider limiting or keeping track of their starch intake. The American Dietetic Association reports that consuming a low-carb diet may be more effective than other types of reduced-calorie diets for the first six months of dieting.

Background

Soy beans are a type of legume and are the original unprocessed form of soy. Soy beans that are still in their shell are commonly referred to as edamame, and shelled soy beans are also called mukimame.

Nutritional Facts

One 1/2 cup serving of Archer Farms brand mukimame provides 120 total calories, 4.5 g of fat, 8 g of total carbohydrates, 6 g of fiber and 12 g of protein. Because carbohydrates and protein provide 4 calories per gram and fat provides 9 calories per gram, 32 of the 120 total calories in shelled soy beans comes from carbohydrates or starch, 48 calories is from protein and 40.5 calories is from fat.

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Weight Management

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate. Although soy beans do provide 8 g of carbohydrates per serving, the majority of carbohydrates are from fiber. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, fiber passes undigested through your digestive tract. For this reason and because high-fiber foods can help you feel full for a longer period of time, fiber can aid in weight management. The American Dietetic Association reports that consuming low-carb diets of less than 35 percent of calories from carbohydrates can result in a reduced overall energy intake. Shelled soy beans only provide about 27 percent of total calories from carbohydrates.

Recommendations

Although soy beans are a type of legume, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, classifies soy beans and other soy products as protein foods. For a regular 2,000-calorie diet, the USDA recommends 5.5 oz. of protein foods per day, including 4 oz. per week of nuts, seeds or soy products. The USDA encourages 12 oz. of soy products per week for a 2,000-calorie lacto-ovo vegetarian diet and 10 oz. of soy products per week for a 2,000-calorie vegan diet.

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