The debate and my conclusionThere has been a lot talk and debate about soy. I have read what promoters of soy have to say, and I have read what those who are against it have to say. What I have decided is that I will include it in my diet moderately, as long as it is organic and prepared properly. And that should really go for any whole food, as long as you like it and aren't allergic to it.
It seems to me that the problems with soy arise when it is either not prepared properly/traditionally (to make the most nutrients available), it is not organic, or it is artificially seperated (isolated soy protein, etc.).
The truth of the matter is that we should all strive to eat whole foods prepared in the way that they are most beneficial. That takes a little more time and a little more effort than eating prepackaged and prepared food most of the time. That is not to say that I won't eat something with isolated soy protein(it is in so many things!), but I know it is not the best way to eat soy because 1. It hasn't been prepared to optimize nutrition (fermentation, soaking, etc.) 2. It may not be organic 3. It may have been prepared in such a way that it could possibly contain aluminum and/or MSG.
Finding companies you can trustWhile doing research for this topic, I came across the Eden Organic website. While there, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they make their soymilk with special enzymes and take special steps to prepare it for human consumption. They also make their dried tofu in the traditional way using "non-GEO soybeans, pure water and nigari" (sea salt). I plan to pick up some of their soymilk and tofu at Whole Foods soon and write a review on them. It is so nice when you find a company like Eden Organic that you feel like you can trust to make foods in the healthiest way possible.
My two biggest personal concerns with soy was its high phytic acid content and the fact that it acts as a weak estrogen in the body.
The phytic acid concern can be dealt with by eating mainly fermented soy, and eating it in moderation. (Easier said than done- my two favorite ways to eat soy are soymilk and tofu, both nonfermented!:) The phytoestrogen concern is, to me, still a valid one but I tend to look at it this way. Some think that the weaker phytoestrogens sitting on the estrogen receptors of the body can be beneficial because they prevent some of the body's estrogen from getting to them. If you have special hormonal concerns, such as PCOS, estrogen dominance, etc- this could potentially be a good thing.
Health benefitsThe World's Healthiest Foods (http://www.WHFoods.com) lists many health benefits that can be obtained from eating soy in a whole food form from a reputable source. Some of the health benefits they list (backed by studies) are:
- helps you stay lean
- lowers cholesterol
- protects bones
- keeps healthy blood sugar levels stable
- promotes gastrointenstinal health
- a of complete protein