Since the proliferation of soy foods in our supermarkets in the past few years there have been claims that soy is both the best food we can eat for optimal health and also the worst. So who is to be believed when it comes to the value of soy in our diets? Much of the information out there on soy is extremely bias one way or the other, either coming from the meat and dairy industries who want people to eat more meat and less soy or coming from soy food manufacturers, such as Silk, who want you to drink more of their product and less cow's milk. All of the conflicting information can be confusing, but here are some key points that should help you make sense of it all. Additionally, we'll review why organic soy is the clear choice when choosing soy foods as part of a balanced, plant-based diet.
Let's start with the things we know about soy that are negatives to consuming it on a regular basis:
- Soy does contain plant estrogen, which can throw of your hormones to some extent if you consume excessive quantities of soy foods. The key word here is 'excessive'. Most people would never even get close to consuming the necessary amount of soy to cause such issues.
- Soy contains phytic acid, which has been known to reduce mineral absorption in the body. However, studies have shown that it does not reduce it enough to have an overall negative impact on our mineral balance.
- Soy is a common allergen, however, it is on the list of common allergens along with dairy, eggs, and shellfish.
Here are some reasons why you should consider adding soy to your diet:
- Soy provides many essential nutrients in your plant-based diet and it also contains a high amount of protein. While some say that the B12 found in soy foods can not be absorbed in the body, there are no unbiased studies that substantiate this claim.
- Though it was once thought to be bad for breast cancer patients and survivors, soy has since been found to reduce the recurrence of breast cancer in those who've previously been diagnosed.
- Soy milk is fortified with all of the same vitamins and minerals as cow's milk (which has no naturally occurring Vitamin D either). However, soy milk does not contain pus like cow's milk (pus in cow's milk has actually been approved by the U.S. government).
- Unprocessed, fermented soy foods, such as tempeh and miso, can have great nutritional benefits including high amounts of vitamins and nutrients.
Eating organic soy foods provides you with soy that is free from toxic chemicals and organic soy is also less likely to contain GMO (genetically modified organism) soy beans, which can be leached of their essential nutrients. Additionally, eating organic soy foods is essential to establishing sustainable eating habits. While soy is a great addition to your diet, you should strive to eat minimally processed soy foods, because just as with any other food, when overly processed, soy becomes less nutritious and can lead to other health and weight issues.
While eating organic usually means you are more conscious of eating less processed foods, there are organic soy foods that are still very processed, so be sure to always read the labels of foods you are buying and eating. Eating organic soy foods can be a great addition to your diet and and can provide you with cancer-reducing nutrients and can be a great meat replacement when you start your plant-based, vegan diet or for Meatless Mondays.