The debate about soy continues! With so many opinions, and depending mainly on the health condition, it’s hard to tell if the highly regarded source of protein is good or bad.
Why is soy controversial in the first place?
In the 1990’s the globe awoke to a massive trend in low fat, fat free, and anything that contained high levels of fats was instantly dismantled into a lower fat option as obesity was sharply on the rise. Experts began to take a very close look at soy as an alternative that could help combat obesity, heart disease, and certain cancers. They looked at the residents of Asia, and how healthy they were as a whole population – and instead of looking at diet in general, genetics, and overall quality of life – they thought to themselves ‘it must be soy!’
There began the soy craze – it was plastered everywhere as a healthy alternative to meat, and it started popping up everywhere. When researchers began to take a closer look, they received quite a shock when looking at some of the true facts about soy.
Soy contains estrogen-like compounds called isoflavones which have mixed levels of evidence as to their benefit or harm, depending on the condition in question.
So what are you supposed to do?
As we now have several decades of research to go off of, soy is proven to be able to aid in cancer prevention, aid in fertility, help with menopausal symptoms, and protect your heart. You should limit your soy intake if you currently take medication for your thyroid. Soy can interfere with the body’s absorption of thyroid medication.
As with any food – you want to try to consume soy in the most nutritious and minimally processed way possible – tempeh, tofu, edamame, and miso are minimally processed examples. The fad of processed soy ‘meat textured’ products are loaded with harsh chemicals that can drastically reduce your health. Soy is a crop that is commonly genetically modified- so sticking to an “organic only” rule will keep GMOs out of your diet.
The bottom line is this: consume only soy that is minimally processed, eat (maybe) a few times a month, and always organic.