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Is Soy Right for You?

In the past few years, soy has emerged as a replacement to just about everything: soy milk, soy meat, soy cheese, soy ice cream, soy, soy, soy! Many health conscious people have proclaimed soy as the perfect replacement to just about anything, but is soy really all it’s cracked up to be?

Get the facts and see if replacing some of your favorite staples with soy alternatives is a solid choice.

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What is Soy?

Soy is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean which has numerous uses. It’s been a staple in Asian cuisine for thousands of years. According to the US Food and Drug Administration:

Soy protein products can be good substitutes for animal products because, unlike some other beans, soy offers a ‘complete’ protein profile. Soy protein products can replace animal-based foods—which also have complete proteins but tend to contain more fat, especially saturated fat—without requiring major adjustments elsewhere in the diet.

Should You Eat Soy?

The Okinawans are the world’s longest-lived people, probably in part because of their diet. For more than five millennia, they’ve eaten whole, organic and fermented soy foods like miso, tempeh, tofu, soy milk, and edamame (young soybeans in the pod), says Dr. Hyman.

To get the most benefit out of eating soy, however, both Dr. Hyman and Elena Giordano, a biologist and nutritionist in Italy who researches the effects of soy in mice, recommend eating only organic, whole food soy to avoid GMOs.

Should You Not Eat Soy?

According to Time, “Soy has a controversial reputation, since it contains phytoestrogen plant compounds that may or may not like the hormone estrogen, which is linked to breast cancer.” Research is still ongoing on this topic, and the results thus far are far from conclusive.

Dr. Mark Hyman MD, has found that the research findings suggest that soy does not cause breast cancer. He suggests that the best things to do to decrease your risk factors for breast cancer are to, “drink less alcohol and eat less trans and saturated fats.”

An interesting article by Bon Appetit has a huge list of studies on soy, drawing both positive and negative impacts.

What are the Best Sources of Soy?

When considering adding soy to your diet, it’s important to incorporate the right kinds of sources. Whole foods like tofu, tempeh, miso and edamame are your best choices.

Often, soy is present in highly processed foods like vegan cheese which doesn’t offer the same nutritional heavy lifting that soy in its whole food forms can offer. Junk food is, ultimately, still junk food regardless of whether it is made with soy or not.

Stick to whole food soy and skip the processed foods. Your body will thank you for it!

Have you experienced any health problems or benefits because of eating soy? Let us know in the comments!

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