Soy: Health Food or Foe?
Asian Veggie Tofu StirFry tonight at my house…. it was amazing but the tofu (a soy product) in it is something I use sparingly. We probably consume tofu about once every few months and I am also diligent in terms of limiting other soy food products.
SO WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH SOY?
I have discovered over the years that people are very sensitive about their stance on whether soy is a healthy food choice. Online Facebook and forum debates regarding soy can get quite nasty (seriously) and though I stay far, far away from those I want to share on here (because it’s my blog and I can do that) what I know and my personal experiences with soy since it is a topic I am frequently asked about.
First of all you are probably going to be shocked to know that whether or not you are choosing to eat soy you most likely consume it on a frequent basis regardless. Why? Because soy is in everything….
Here are just a few of the many “hidden” sources of soy that you might not be aware of courtesy of Health Canada (2010):
Bread crumbs, cereals and crackers
Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP), hydrolyzed soy protein (HSP) and hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
Imitation dairy food (unless labeled soy free)
Infant formula, follow-up formula, nutrition supplements for toddlers and children
Meal replacements (unless labeled soy free)
Meat products with fillers, for example, burgers and prepared ground meat products
Mexican foods, for example, chili, taco fillings and tamales
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
This is not even an extensive list. So as you can see avoiding “accidental” soy is extremely difficult. Therefore in our home we eat it “by choice” in extreme moderation.
I personally love soy, especially tofu, since cooking with it is amazing because of its versatility…I’ve even made “bacon” with it. I also have soy milk when other nut milks aren’t available, overall though I do avoid soy for a few reasons:
•Tofu (which is made from soybeans) is one of the leading gmo foods on the planet along with corn. Current estimates are that 90% of all soy products are gmo.
•Tofu and all soy contain GOITROGENS. These are substances that interfere with iodine intake in the thyroid gland and disrupt thyroid hormone production, leading to goiter and hypothyroid.
. •Soy products such as tofu contain high levels of phytic acid or phytates. Phytates are antinutrients that bind to minerals and block absorption and cause many digestive issues including kidney stones, pancreatitis, leaky gut syndrome and intestinal inflammation.
. •All soy/tofu contains phytoestrogens, aka plant based estrogen. These estrogens mimic actual estrogen, impeding our normal production of it. I can’t speak for everyone but can share that my hormones definitely respond negatively when I consume soy on a regular basis.
The nutritional value of soy is a huge area of debate. Proponents argue that soy and tofu are low calorie and provide high protein and vitamin and mineral content, while those against state that the hormonal health risks make it a food you should never eat.
I remain neutral. I would never consume soy products on a regular basis but I’m also not going to completely eliminate them from my diet altogether.
Bottom line: opt for non-gmo,organic soy products like these and eat them in moderation:
*fermented is better if possible too.
Fermented bean paste
Soybean infant formula
Sweet bean sauce
Textured vegetable protein
Fermented bean curd
Tofu skin roll
Yellow soybean paste