Is soy healthy? Is soy a superfood or poison? Will I grow "man boobs" if I eat soy?
I am on a journey to eat more plant-based (vegetarian/vegan) because I have watched one too many documentaries (most recent: Cowspiracy and Vegucated free on Netflix) that have left me disgusted at the meat industry, not only for health reasons, but sustainability and for compassion's sake. If you are able to watch these documentaries and still eat meat that is pre-packaged from the grocery store, I would be shocked.
But, I digress. The reason for this post- Since I am not eating meat, I wanted to find another alternative source of protein in addition to my protein shakes. Enter: Soy.
Problem is, I have been hearing negative phrases like estrogen-mimicking and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) which have left me skeptical.
The consensus for my family: I will consume no more than 2-3 servings a day of organic edamame and organic tempeh as part of a well-rounded plant-based whole foods diet. I will stick to my non-GMO, soy-free, pea-based protein shake as a healthy protein option.
One thing to note: Soy is a highly allergenic food. FARE states that soybean allergy is one of the more common food allergies, especially among babies and children. Approximately 0.4 percent of children are allergic to soy. This is why we recommend avoiding soy during the 30 Day Transformation. Like gluten, soy is in a lot of processed foods you are eating. You may have an allergy and not even know it. Eliminating it and reintegrating it after the 30 days gives you the opportunity to listen to your body.
The Soy Myths
Soy will cause you to grow man boobs
If you don't like tofu, soy protein supplements are a smart alternative
Soy-based imitation meat products are nutritious
are all covered in this Huffington Post article.
What is Soy and How is it Used?
Soybeans are legumes that originated in East Asia, but are now being produced on a large scale in the United States.
Soy is used to make many different foods. Soybeans can be eaten whole, with the immature types being called edamame. Soybeans must be cooked, as they are poisonous when raw.
Soy is used in tofu, soy milk and various dairy and meat substitutes.
Interestingly, whole soybeans are rarely consumed in Western countries. (1)
Asians and Soy
An argument is made that Asians eat a lot of soy and their cancer rates are extremely low. #1 Asians don't eat as much soy as you think (they consume small amounts as a condiment and not to replace animal protein) and #2 the soy they consume is typically fermented soy like miso, natto, and tempeh.
Is Soy Estrogen-Mimicking?
Babies fed soy-based formula have 13,000 to 22,000 times more estrogen compounds in their blood than babies fed milk-based formula. Infants exclusively fed soy formula receive the estrogenic equivalent of at least four birth control pills per day.
After a long fermentation process, the phytate and "anti-nutrient" levels of soybeans are reduced, and their beneficial properties become available to your digestive system.
The primary fermented soy products he recommends are:
- Tempeh, a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavor.
- Miso, a fermented soybean paste with a salty, buttery texture (commonly used in miso soup).
- Natto, fermented soybeans with a sticky texture and strong, cheese-like flavor.
- Soy sauce, which is traditionally made by fermenting soybeans, salt and enzymes; be wary because many varieties on the market today are made artificially using a chemical process.
GMOs and Soy
Over 90% of soy produced in the US is genetically modified which means it contains GMOs. The majority of the soy is fed to animals that we then eat. This is why looking for the Organic label is so important. Organic = Non-GMO.
One of our favorite things to eat is sushi. You can't have sushi without soy sauce, can you? I can't. Problem is that most of the conventional soy sauces are made with GM soy. Why not try Organic Tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos made without gluten or GM soy. Or, make your own without any soy at all.
Soy linked to Breast Cancer?
List of Foods with Soy
The majority of soy in our diet comes from the refined products that are processed from the soybeans. Soy is hidden in so many processed foods. Here is a great comprehensive list of foods (and non-foods) where soy is hiding from fellow blogger, Meghan Telpner. I will add one too- Chocolate! The nerve...
Food and products that contain or often contain soy:
- Bean sprouts
- Bread crumbs, cereals and crackers
- Breaded foods
- Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP), hydrolyzed soy protein (HSP) and hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
- Imitation dairy food
- Infant formula, follow-up formula, nutrition supplements for toddlers and children
- Meal replacements
- Meat products with fillers, for example, burgers and prepared ground meat products
- Mexican foods, for example, chili, taco fillings and tamales
- Nutrition supplements
- Sauces, for example, soy, shoyu, tamari, teriyaki, Worcestershire
- Simulated fish and meat products, for example, surimi, imitation bacon bits, vegetarian burgers
- Stews, for example, in gravies
- Vegetarian dishes
Other possible sources of soy:
- Baked goods and baking mixes
- Beverage mixes, for example, hot chocolate and lemonade
- Canned tuna and minced hams, for example, seasoned or mixed with other ingredients for flavour
- Chewing gum
- Cooking spray, margarine, vegetable shortening and vegetable oil
- Dressings, gravies and marinades
- Frozen desserts
- Milled corn
- Meat products with fillers, for example, preprepared hamburger patties, hotdogs and cold cuts
- Seafood -based products and fish
- Seasoning and spices
- Snack foods, for example, soy nuts
- Soups, broths, soup mixes and stocks
- Soy pasta
- Spreads, dips, mayonnaise and peanut butter (like "butter" at restaurants)
- Thickening agents
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG) (may contain hydrolyzed protein)
Non-food sources of soy
- Cosmetics and soaps
- Craft materials
- Milk substitutes for young animals
- Pet food
I am so thankful to represent a company that is Vegan Certified which means we are cruelty-free, and that we do not use GMOs or any artificial flavors, sweeteners, or dyes in any of the 450 products we sell.