so i was teaching a class the other night and someone asked the question i have been asked about 10,000 times...is soy healthy?
i know that information is confusing and conflicting. some 'experts' say soy is grand and healthy, the second coming of food and others weigh in that soy will...oh, i don't know...make our brains smaller, our sex life disappear, our breast cancer become virulent and life as we know it will end.
i'm being sarcastic, obviously, but soy vey, what a big to-do over the humble soybean. so let me explain with the information that i have gathered over the years...and then the decision to soy or not to soy is up to you.
soybeans and their byproducts as food sources are ancient, with their beginning in ancient china. from edamame, tofu, tempeh, soy sauce, natto, soymilk, miso and dried soybeans, this incredible bean gave us concentrated nutrition in the form of protein, fiber, carbohydrates and other essential nutrients...and these little beans still do...and they're low in fat and easy to use.
as time went on and we discovered 'nutrionism,' breaking all our food down into its teensiest nutrients, we made note of the soybean's concentrated levels of compounds called phyto-nutrients, which are present in all plant foods...but soy was a bit unique in that one of the phyto-nutrients it contained came to be known as phyto-estrogen, which led people to believe that it is a plant form of estrogen. and the problems began...
as marketers discovered this information, soy became an ingredient in everything from hand cream to energy bars, soups, salad dressing, cereal, bread and pastry...yikes! but how did they do that? how did they get tofu into every single product we purchased (and marketed to women...). well, they didn't. they took a chemically compromised version of soy protein and put that in all those products...and if that wasn't enough, they began cultivating genetically modified versions of soybeans...and they marketed them to us in droves, so now, as a culture, we were sucking down more soy that mother nature ever really intended.
so simple, pure, nutritious soybeans, meant to be a part of a healthy diet have become the bane of our existence.
is there anything wrong with eating edamame, tofu, tempeh, miso, soy sauce, soymilk, natto or dried soybeans when they are in their natural, organic form? nope. should you eat these pure products every single day? nope.
so here is my scoop, if you will on soy. in it's pure, organic form, soybeans are just fine for your health. do you really think that tofu is the reason for the increase in the rates of breast cancer? trust me; there are not enough people eating tofu for that to be true.
tofu and tempeh and soymilk are quite tempting to be an everyday thing, aren't they? it doesn't get easier, really. with those ingredients and a few veggies, you have dinner in minutes. but try not to fall into that trap.
in my view, the healthiest way to incorporate soy into your diet and to benefit from all of its nutrition is to use it 2-3 times a week, in the form of tofu, tempeh or soymilk...not three times each, in total. on top of that, using miso occasionally, soy sauce, natto and other forms of pure soybeans are just fine.
if edamame keep you out of the chip bag, let them be your treat once a week.
compromised soy products like that found in a lot of processed foods, even natural ones, should be skipped over in my view. those isolated soy compounds are soooooo far from what nature created that it should come as no surprise that they can compromise your health.
should you eat soy if you have breast cancer? only you can make that call...i know what i think...see above...but you have to be comfortable with your choices. do some research; read; study and then make an informed choice. i can tell you this. phyto-estrogen doesn't behave in the body as estrogen. it behaves as your body's own estrogen receptor cells behave, meaning that they do the same job...which is this. when a body needs estrogen, estrogen receptor cells open and search the body for estrogen sources to keep the body hormonally balanced. if the body has more estrogen than it needs, then estrogen receptor cells 'close,' blocking the absorption of this excess estrogen, again making the body hormonally balanced.
but will soy shrink your brain? or bring on dementia? kill your sex drive and your kids? will it give you cancer? no...and it won't wax your car, either.
have a lovely christmas!