All About Tofu and Soy

All About Tofu and Soy

Soy products have long been used as an alternative to meat.  Vegans regularly use tofu to help increase the protein levels in their diet.  Many people drink soy milk instead of dairy.  Once thought to be super healthy, there is now a real debate going on about whether soy is healthy or not. 

In the past, soy was considered such a health food because it was shown to lower LDL, or “bad”, cholesterol levels.  It was also shown to reduce heart disease levels and a person’s risk for developing cancer.  Because of this, the use of soy was brought mainstream.  Even people who don’t purchase soy or tofu get a good amount of soy in their diet from the copious use of soybean oil and soy protein isolates in processed foods. 

Concerns about consuming soy include:

  • Soybean contains large amounts of plant estrogens.  The claim is that, after eating large amounts of soy, we create what’s known as estrogen dominance.  It can cause weight gain, especially in the areas of the hips, the belly and the underarms.  It is theorized that the increased estrogen levels contributes to a higher risk of breast cancer. 
  • Soy affects proper thyroid function.  There are studies that show that even one glass of soy milk per day can contribute to hypothyroidism issues.
  • Soy is one of the top ten foods that cause allergic reactions.  Many people who consume soy start to have hives, itching, inflammation and may even go into anaphylaxis shock. 
  • Although soy has traditionally been linked to decreased levels of ovarian cancers, a recent study shows that a diet heavy in soy products is linked to a higher recurrence of breast cancer for someone who already had cancer. 
  • Soy is even thought to decrease the body’s ability to process minerals in our foods.  This is because soy is so high in phytates.  Foods high in phytates need to be properly processed in order to remove these phytates so that our bodies can better absorb nutrients. 

Traditional ways to consume soy

Even though people have been eating soy for hundreds and even thousands of years, these older cultures would eat soy, but only if they were fermented or traditionally prepared.  This included Tempeh, miso, natto, and naturally fermented soy sauce.  They would also use soy as a condiment and never as a main dish or primary food source. 

Even though ancient cultures ate soy, this is the first time in thousands of years that people are eating non-fermented and highly processed soy at a rate never before seen. 

Final Thoughts:

It seems that although there may be some valid concerns about eating soy, there is still no clear consensus.  However, in light of these recent studies, Germany and Israel have issued warnings against eating soy products and officials in New Zealand have already recommended against the use of soy formula for all babies. 

Of the information that is available, most tend to show that a small amount of soy does no harm.  However, it’s always best to use high quality soy products that are minimally processed or naturally fermented.  Partially-hydrogenated soybean oil and soy protein isolates are highly processed, often with the use of toxic chemicals.  If you are going to remove any soy products from your diet, work on these two first.  

CATEGORIES: Healthy Foods