Soy: The Good, The Bad, & Everything You Need To Know
Updated: May 29, 2020
All About Soy
Soy became popular over the last few years as an alternative for dairy and meat. Soy is a popular, and sometimes controversial ingredient. It's a complete protein rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, fiber, and potassium. Although it's a popular health food, not all soy is healthy. There are fermented and unfermented soy products. Some common soy products include miso, tempeh, and tofu. Other soy products such as soy cheese, soy yogurt, and imitation meats are highly processed and should be limited.
The Issue With Soy
"The issue with soy is most soy today contains something called phytoestrogens, and these phytoestrogens are estrogen mimickers in the body. And so, if you’re a male consuming extra estrogen, it’s going to give you more feminine characteristics." Dr Axe
I personally stay away from soy, because I have PCOS and soy is known to increase estrogen levels which can also increase your risk of PCOS, breast cancer, cervical cancer and other hormone imbalance-related disorders.
The Healthier Soy Options
If you want to include soy in your diet, I recommend looking for organic, fermented soy. Organic fermented soy has no GMO's, chemicals or fertilizers. Fermented foods are beneficial for gut health and can be good plant-based protein sources.
Here are some common soy products explained:
Miso: A thick paste made from fermented soybeans, rice, or barley malt. Miso is made by mixing together soybeans, salt, mold culture, and a grain like rice or barley. This is a popular salad dressing, sauce and marinade.
Soy Milk: Finely ground soybeans, soaked and strained to product a milky liquid. Soy milk is made by soaking dry soybeans, grinding them with water, and filtering the liquid. Store bought soy milk can be highly processed and loaded with additives and sugar
Tofu: Tofu is made from hot soy milk. Processed tofu includes fermented, flavored, dried, fried and frozen variations which are typically used in imitation meat products. It usually has a squishy texture.
Tempeh: Whole soybeans fermented into a cake or patty. Tempeh gained popularity over the last few years in the vegetarian world. Tempeh is a rich soybean cake made from soybeans and typically a grain like rice or millet. Fermented tempeh is low-fat and high-protein and has a nutty and smoky flavor. is
As you can see, soy products can be harmful for hormone balance and it's always best to avoid processed forms of you. If you are interested in soy, I always recommend sticking to fermented soy and choosing options like tempeh or miso in small quantities. If you currently eat a lot of soy and are looking for alternatives, check out my blog post on plant-based proteins for safer options.