Thursday, December 18, 2008

soy vey!

hi guys-

so i was teaching a class the other night and someone asked the question i have been asked about 10,000 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!


Lauren said...

I use to eat soy almost everyday but I've stopped because my mother has breast cancer. I pretty much avoid it now. Especially the processed stuff. Every now and then I have edamame, tempeh, or tofu.

By the way, Christina, I got your newsletter today and I thoroughly enjoyed what you wrote about your mother. So touching and beautiful. Thank you for that!

Ree said...

Thank you for your voice of reason and the research you've done on this somewhat confusing topic. As a BC survivor I have often wondered how much soy I should consume. Love all you do and thanks for the new book too! Lots of great information.

christea said...

Thank you, Christina, for clarifying this. It amazes me how media outlets tout the "fear factor" of eating soy, yet say nothing about the blanketing of herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, growth hormones or genetically modified organisms on our grocery shelves, in our meat supply and in our restaurant/take-out food. I remember on one of your shows Dr. Maggie discussing the health benefits of organic soy: good source of plant protein, no cholesterol, high in calcium, contains eight essential amino acids, good source of omega 3 fatty acids, good source of fiber and B vitamins. She also discussed the non-health benefits of soy protein isolates found in protein bars and protein shakes. Seems to me tofu is better than the non-organic boneless, skinless chicken breast that people consume "for their health". My two cents ... makes me crazy! This is why I support your Healthcare Initiative and The Center for Food Safety. Ho Ho Ho ~ Happy Holidays!

christea said...

oops ... Health EDUCATION Initiative. I always do that!!! Brain cramp ~ guess because health education is so connected to healthcare!

gardenbud said...


I apologize but I don't see how to send you an email and I'm not familiar with blogging.

I just saw you do a layered cornbread recipe on TV but I can't seem to find it in the recipe archives. Can you help???

Erica said...

Hi Christina. Very interesting topic to think about. Soy is definitely a favorite in our house. I do have a couple of random questions not concerning soy, and I wasn't sure where to post them, but here I go.

Who is Jon Michaels and how do you know him? Also, what is your relation to the producer Robert Pirello? Thanks, Christina! I love your show!

Kristen's Raw said...

Nice write up!


JesicaAn said...

BTW, I'm really excited to have found your show/cookbooks...
I am in school right now getting a degree in dietetics and nutrition, the goal being "preventative nutrition", your story encompasses what I want to teach people about how amazing our Earth can be in what it provides for us, (and that they don't have to be bullied by pharmaceutical companies into believing they need 15 different pills each day to live a healthful life...)

Good to Go said...

I've had dozens of client's who are now healthy that they are no longer eating soy. We don't use soy at our restaurant, Good to Go - Raw, Vegan, and Vegetarian in HB. Thanks for the info and your latest book.

Happy New day and year

ppalate said...

I watch your show on PBS and would like to try some of your recipes but I am allergic to soy, can you suggest a substitute?

ppalate said...

I watch your show on PbS and would like to try some of your recipes but I am allergic to soy, can you suggest some alternative protein?

jgaley said...

What do you think of nutritional yeast? I've never noticed it used on your show. I love the taste and sprinkle some on just about everything. So I'm kind of curious...

what said...

Hi Christina,

I just saw your show for the first time today. I really love the recipes...but you are a professional cook. Using your hands to squeeze limes and toss salads with your rings on and with your bracelets hanging into the food sends a very bad message to everyone who cooks for other people and says something about you as a cook. That is TOTALLY unsanitary. It would make me not want to eat from you and to be turned off from watching your show. You should know better, you are a professional. Does anyone practice food sanitation these days?

Kristina Rose! said...

Great article!!! I believe my newly acquired vegan diet was overloaded w/ soy hence the breakouts and oddly early menstrual cycle..

To What...
Leave her alone! CP is a wonderfully inspiring women...and amazing chef! She is on a TV show... she isn't exactly going to wear a hair net and gloves... gheesh

Barry said...

I love Christina Cooks. Why ruin it with Jon Michaels? I DVR it and FF through JM crap. FF to to good stuff.