Vegans forgo the consumption of meat and meat derivatives, which leaves them looking for alternatives to meet their nutritional needs. Soya chunks are made from soy beans and they work well as meat substitutes. These come in the form of regular chunks, mini chunks and granules, and can be used in many ways. The nutritional value is similar to meat in some areas and different in others.
Meat alternatives that come from soy beans are complete proteins. This means they have all the essential amino acids present. Amino acids are the building blocks that create protein. Protein is a macronutrient that the body needs in large amounts for cell repair, immune function and muscle growth. A 3.5-ounce serving of soya chunks contains over 54 grams of protein. This is more than the same serving size of meat and eggs. The recommended daily intake of protein is 56 grams for men and 46 grams for women.
What separates meat alternatives from actual meats is their carb contents. Regular meat is carb-free, but soya chunks contain a high amount. This is because they derive from beans, which are carb-containing foods. A 3.5-ounce serving of soya chunks contains just under 30 grams of carbs. The recommended intake of carbs for the average adult is 130 grams. Carbs are a primary source of fuel for the body. Athletes who train rigorously for an extended period of time need a higher amount to meet these demands. A daily intake of 250 grams is more optimal.
The calories in a food derive from protein, carbs and fat. Because soya chunks have only a negligible amount of fat, the calories come from the carbs and protein. A 3.5-ounce serving has about 336 calories. Based on a 2,000-calorie diet, this comprises about 18 percent of your total intake.
Iron is an electrolyte mineral needed for oxygen transport in the body. Being deficient in iron can lead to physical weakness, fatigue and a compromised immune system. Soya chunks have a very high concentration of iron. A 3.5-ounce serving contains just over 21 milligrams. Males aged 19 and older and females 51 and older need 8 milligrams a day. Women from 19 to 50 however, need 18 milligrams a day. One serving of the chunks provides more than 100 percent of the recommended daily intake for both genders.
Calcium is another electrolyte that helps strengthen bones and teeth and also aids in muscle contractions. Soya chunks contain over 530 milligrams of calcium per 3.5-ounce serving. The daily recommendation for this mineral is 1,000 milligrams for men 19 to 70 and women 19 to 50. Women aged 51 and older, and men aged 71 and older should get 1,200 milligrams a day.
Soya chunks are dry when you purchase them. They need to be reconstituted in water, which causes them to become spongy. Plain soya chunks do not have much flavor at all, but they absorb sauces, spices and flavorings well. Use them to make stew, soup, curry and masala dishes, salads and stir-fries.