What’s the scoop with soy?
Food labels tout being soy-free as a major benefit, yet green juicing yogis are loving all over their tofu.
What’s a protein shake enthusiast to do when it comes to soy milk and soy protein?
After all, for every scientific study showing the health benefits of soy, another study connects it with disease.
Another question might be, “is there a type of soy that’s safe to eat?”
The answer is yes! But there are caveats:
Phytates, Phytoestrogens, and GMOs…oh my!
All beans, soy included, contain phytates and other ‘anti-nutrients’, which bind to minerals so that your body can’t properly absorb them.
On the other hand, fermented soybeans are a nutritious, protein-rich, plant food.
The process of fermenting soy eliminates these anti-nutrients, so products like miso, tempeh, natto and real soy sauce are on the below Soy to Love List and why tofu and edamame are best consumed in small quantities (because they are unprocessed/lightly processed but also unfermented).
Phytoestrogens mimic estrogen in the body, causing hormone disruption like male hair loss, male breast development (otherwise lovingly known as moobs), early onset puberty in girls, and infertility in men and women.
It’s also been linked to certain types of cancers.
Finally, soy is known to be one of the heaviest sprayed and genetically modified crops.
So, below is a handy list of Soy to Avoid and Soy to Love:
Soy to Avoid
Soy protein isolate
If you’re absolutely dying for a little soy milk, choose whole-bean soy milk with no added sugars (like brown-rice syrup or evaporated cane juice) and no other additives. Also, please choose organic to avoid pesticides.
Soy to Love!
Naturally fermented soy sauce
These foods are not essential for a healthy diet, but can be beneficial when eaten in small quantities. Consider them as a condiment, not a staple food, similar to the native Asian diet.
The bottom line is: if you are going to eat soy, stick to small amounts of unprocessed, GMO-free soybean foods from the Soy to Love list above. Enjoy edamame and organic, sprouted tofu in small quantities.
What does this mean for your protein shake order at the gym’s juice bar?
When the nice man asks if you’d like whey or soy, now you know that soy is not necessarily the healthier answer.
If I were you, I’d ask for a plant-based, soy-free protein powder.
Otherwise, I’d go home and make one myself.