Soy has become quite the popular kid on the block!
Soy-based foods such as soymilk, tofu, miso, tempeh, and edamame aren't just limited to health stores anymore.
These days you find them all over in supermarkets, coffee shops, and restaurants in many different forms.
It's a protein-packed way to replace meat and dairy products for vegans, vegetarians, and those who are lactose intolerant.
Are Soy Foods Healthy?
With so much conflicting and confusing information out there, you may wonder if soy is actually good for you or not?
On the one hand, you hear it's rich in nutrients and powerful minerals. Diets containing it appear to have many health benefits.
It can lower blood sugar levels, improve heart health, reduce menopause symptoms, and even lower the risk of certain cancers.
But on the other hand, headlines about the negative effect of soy pop up all over the internet.
"Soy increase the risk of breast cancer."
"Soy hinders your thyroid function," or maybe something like
"Increase your chances of getting pregnant by avoiding soy."
So which is true? It's all a bit confusing, we know!
As with all foods, the research on soy is still ongoing. But in recent years, it has been discovered that moderate consumption of minimally processed soy foods (more on what those are later) does indeed offer some benefits.
The Benefits Of Soy
Soy contains phytoestrogens, a hormone-like substance that mimics estrogen, a powerful antioxidant and often associated with many health benefits.
Soy foods are also rich in B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, fiber, and high-quality protein. Soy protein is one of the few plant-based proteins considered a complete protein. It contains all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot make and must be obtained from the diet.
Not only is soy high in protein, it is also low in saturated fat, making it a great alternative to animal proteins which are often high in fats.
Protect Against Heart Disease
Eating a diet rich in soy products is linked with a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, including strokes and heart attacks.
Soy isoflavones appear to reduce inflammation in blood vessels and improve their elasticity — two key factors believed to protect the heart.
People with existing risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, seem to be among those who might benefit most from soy-based diets.
Lowers LDL (Bad) Cholesterol Levels
Many studies suggest that diets that include soy foods may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol.
One study concluded that a median intake of 25 grams of soy protein per day might help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by around 3%.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Soybeans and soy foods are generally rich in arginine, an amino acid believed to help regulate blood pressure levels.
Soybeans are also rich in isoflavones, a compound believed to offer blood-pressure-lowering benefits.
Reduces The Risk Of Certain Cancers
Soy-rich diets may help lower the risk of certain types of cancer, but more research is needed on this subject.
One study indicated that a diet high in soy was associated with a reduced risk of recurrence of breast cancer.
Other studies suggest that high intakes of soy isoflavones may lower the risk of endometrial cancer by around 19%.
Soy-rich diets may be associated with a 7% lower risk for digestive tract cancers and an up to 12% lower risk of colon cancer. Men eating soy-rich diets may benefit from a lower risk of prostate cancer.
It Could Assist With Infertility
Soy actually appears to be beneficial for fertility.
Moderate soy consumption won't pose a problem in productive health.
Women undergoing IVF are more likely to get pregnant if they consume unprocessed soy.
Furthermore, no differences were found in reproductive health between adults who consumed soy formula as infants compared to those who consumed cow's milk formula as babies.
But don't overdo it. Daily consumption of over 100mg of soy isoflavones (the equivalent of 6-ounces uncooked tempeh or 16 cups of soy milk) can lead to impaired ovarian function.
May Help With Menopause Symptoms
As soy is rich in phytoestrogens, or plant estrogens, they can bind to estrogen receptors in the body.
Menopause causes a woman's estrogen levels to naturally decrease, causing unpleasant symptoms, such as tiredness, vaginal dryness, and hot flashes.
By binding to estrogen receptors in the body, soy isoflavones (or phytoestrogens) help reduce the severity of these symptoms.
It can also help with joint pain, depression, and irritability, all common symptoms of menopause.
The Best Soy Products To Eat
When it comes to choosing soy products, quality is the most important.
The best is to choose non-processed soy products such as tempeh, tofu, miso, and edamame beans.
Processed soy products like soy burgers, sausages, and cheeses contain soy protein that has been heavily processed and stripped from its nutrients. They also often contain added sodium, fats, preservatives, and sugars.
These convenient soy foods are ok to enjoy occasionally as a treat.
Down below are some of the best soy products to choose.
Edamame - Unprocessed raw green soybeans high in fiber and protein. You will find these in the frozen section at the grocery store.
Miso - A salty paste made from a fermented mixture of soybeans and a grain, such as barley or rice.
Soybeans - Dry hard beans that you need to soak overnight and then cook for three to four hours. They are excellent to use in stews and soups.
Soy curls - One of our favorites! A convenient, crunchy snack food containing only soy. Fantastic to use in so many ways! Get it HERE.
Soynut butter - Made from whole roasted soynuts that are ground fine and blended with soybean oil.
Soy milk - Made by cooking the creamy milk of crushed soybeans. Sweeteners, nutrients, and plant-based thickening agents are often added to give soy milk a consistency similar to cow's milk.
Soy dairy products - Cheese, Cream cheese, sour cream, yogurt, and frozen desserts like ice cream are all based on soy milk as the primary ingredient.
Soybean oil - A healthy oil with a neutral flavor that contains no cholesterol and has good omega-3 fats.
Soy flour - Used as an alternative to all-purpose flours.
Soy nuts - A crunchy snack made from mature soybeans that have been soaked in water, drained, and dry-roasted with just a little bit of salt.
Soy sauce - The salty liquid by-product of making miso. Always choose a "naturally brewed" product instead of chemically extracted, mass-market sauces flavored with corn syrup.
Tempeh - A fermented food made of whole soybeans or a mixture of soybeans, grains, and seeds. s.
Tofu - Tofu is one of the more known soy products and meat replacements. It is made by stirring a thickener into warm soy milk to make a curd-like consistency. It comes in soft, firm, or extra-firm varieties.
Moderate Soy Consumption Is Not Bad For You
As you can see, soy has many benefits and far outweigh the minimal risks it poses.
You also need to consume a reasonably large amount before the negative effects become significant.
As with all things in life, moderation is key and the quality of your food. Limit processed soy products and choose the most natural form of soy.
But, we would say it is safe to say that soy is a joy!! So go ahead and order that tofu ;-)
CLNF SOY PRODUCTS
We have a variety of soy products for you to choose from: