Everywhere you look on health websites, they are either pro- or anti-soy. This is because not everyone is well-informed on the actual research and often jump to conclusions with so much conflicting information. While some boast of soy being the ultimate health food, others claim that soy can cause hormonal imbalances or even cancer.
With so many questions about soy, here’s everything you need to know about soy.
What is Soy exactly?
Soybeans are native legumes that stem from Eastern Asia. All Asian countries regularly use soybeans in their cuisines. As they say that soy can be poisonous if not cooked, the fermentation process works to remove the “poison” and make it safe to consume.
Soy rose to popularity with the invention of trans-fat and vegetable oil. With all the oil extracted, manufacturers were left with soy protein. While Asian cultures eat only fermented and whole soybean products, westerners split soy into two food products – soy protein and soybean oil. You can often find these in fast or processed foods.
For this reason, westerners were found to eat more soy that those in Asia.
What are the major conflicts of soy?
There is a misunderstanding that choosing soy instead of animal protein is friendlier to the environment and a sustainable option. However, both forms of protein play an equal part. Aside for the need of pesticides, the process of packaging and transporting soy plays a role in the health benefits.
Soy is linked to breast cancer
Some say that soy is linked to breast cancer because of the excess estrogen exposure. Soy contains isoflavones, where are a group of natural plant chemicals. They can be found in small amounts in a variety of grains, legumes, and vegetables. As isoflavones bind estrogen, they are not as strong as animal-based estrogen.
The isoflavones are very positive as they play non-hormonal effects on the body. They will help regulate cell growth that prevents certain cancers as well as regulating cholesterol. Furthermore, Asia has been found to have the lowest rates of breast cancer, where diets in soy are higher.
Soy is bad for thyroids
Various research tells us that soy may not affect the thyroid function. However, soy can be dangerous for those with existing thyroid problems. This may be due to how the body absorbs medication, making it less efficient. Be sure to wait a few hours after taking your thyroid medication before you consume any soy products that may alter your intestine absorption.
Be Wise about Soy Milk
Soy milk carries amazing health benefits. However, there are many types of soy milk on the market that are not made with real soybeans or processed. Purchase fresh soy milk from health food stores. You can also choose whole-bean soy milk rather than soy milk made from soy isolate or soy protein.
Soy Foods: the best soy products to eat
Just as you would with all foods, consume in moderation. One to two servings of fermented and whole soy is best. A half-cup of tofu or 1 cup of soy milk makes one serving. Whole soy foods are the best choices. They are not processed and contain the most nutritional benefits. Choose tofu and edamame as these Asian staples are easy to prepare and loaded with calcium and omega-3 fats to ensure healthy brain function.
Edamame is also an excellent source of protein. Just one half cup of edamame will provide you with eight grams of protein. That’s triple the amount you’d get from other vegetables. Other whole soy options to choose from include miso, natto, and tempeh. The fermentation allows nutrients to be absorbed quickly and provide you with probiotics that will help keep your gut flora healthy and clean.
However, not all soy products are made equal. Be sure to choose the right products to ensure that you’re getting the best and purest forms of vitamins and nutrition from soy. Go for organic whenever possible.
Soy Foods: what to avoid
Soy energy bars and burgers are the worst choices of soy. Why? Because these soy products are processed forms of soy. When you find “soy protein” on the label, this means that soy contains processed materials and the nutrients are stripped away. Other processed soy products are steak strips, cheese, frankfurters and other soy products. Avoid foods like these as they are also likely to be loaded with added fats, sugars, and refined flours.
Soy is a useful food product that is loaded with vitamins, nutrients, and protein. Soy products are versatile and easy to prepare in a range of cuisines and dishes. Just be sure to check the labels and know exactly what you’re buying.