Is soy a good or a bad food? Here’s how to identify and enjoy the healthful soy products. And to avoid the poor quality ones.
As with any food, careful processing of a quality ingredient yields a superior product. Whereas, poor quality soy products that were cheaply produced and highly refined are shoddy. Do your health a favor and avoid such foods.
Inherently, soy contains anti-nutrients such as enzyme inhibitors, which interfere with the digestion of protein. Over 3,000 years ago, Asians discovered how to increase soy’s digestibility and flavor by soaking, fermenting and sprouting the beans. This eliminated the anti-nutrients and increased soy’s nutrition.
Fifty years ago Western food technologists saw the value of the common soybean as an affordable protein. Bypassing the traditional and time consuming preparation steps, they created new soy foods. In record time, soy became the least expensive protein source in virtually every country.
While many of these products are excellent in quality and free of anti-nutrients, unfortunately, not all are. This helps to explain the contradictory soy information we see in today’s media.
Have you ever considered why we don’t sit down to a bowl of soybeans as we would to a bowl of pinto or black beans. Because of their anti-nutrients, whole soy beans are a bear to digest. Unless, that is, they’ve been properly prepared or processed.
Two exceptions are black soy and immature soy (edamame). The later are widely available as green soybeans in the pod. The black soy beans have such a lush, creamy texture and chestnut-like flavor that they’re worth seeking out. They’re available dried from Asian markets and canned from Eden Foods.
With the following guidelines you can easily chose quality and avoid the toxic soy products. It will require some label-reading vigilance. But, before long you’ll identify and select only the trustworthy brand names.
Two guidelines for selecting quality soy foods:
1. Purchase products made from whole beans such as miso, soybean sprouts, edamame, tempeh, shoyu, tamari soy sauce and natto.
2. Make sure soybeans are from a quality source. Favor organic soy products that contain no GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Sixty percent of soybeans on today’s market have been genetically modified.
Soy Products to Avoid:
Bypass soy foods made from fractionated or defated beans or that contain soy oil. Please note that some foods, like soy sauce, tofu and soymilk may be made from either whole or fractionated beans. Soynut or soynut butter are cheap, high-tech products that I cannot endorse.
Fractionated beans are processed in a way that denatures proteins and doesn’t remove the anti-nutrients. Such beans are typically dissolved in petroleum-based solvents and then extruded at thermoplastic temperatures to mold them into desired shapes and textures. If the label lists TVP, TSP, soy isolate, or soy protein, then isolate them from your diet.
You’ll find these shoddy ingredients in some tofu, soy milk, soy sauce, meat analogs and extenders, energy bars, infant formulas, frozen desserts, meal replacement and protein drinks, soy cheese and soy deli foods.
Likewise, avoid products that contain soy oil including margarine and mayonnaise. Virtually all soy oil currently available in the US is a byproduct of the soy industry. It is a highly processed, denatured oil that contributes to the formation of free-radicals.
Soynut and soynut butter are not recommended.
May you be well nourished,