Typically, if you read about soy the text tends to be either overwhelmingly in favor of it or overwhelmingly negative towards the legume and its consumption.
In reality there are both good and bad things about soy, as with any food, it is about what form you consume it in.
To start off, soy is over-processed in western countries like the United States where it is mostly used as cattle feed. In fact, this ‘bad’ soy makes up a whopping 99 percent of soy use in the U.S.
In other countries, like China, Japan, and Korea soy is consumed in its whole form and provides numerous benefits to one’s overall health.
The key is to avoid soy in bad form; this includes soybean oil, TVP (textured soy protein), and SPI (soy protein isolate).
Instead consuming it in its whole form, including tofu, full fat soymilk, and tempeh is preferable.
The most common products containing processed soy are soy protein powder, power bars, and even low fat soymilks. So be watchful of bad soy products with faulty health claims. It is better to eat whole soybeans instead of these so-called energy boosters. If in doubt, check the ingredients list. If the list contains several unknown ingredients, it is best to avoid the product.
If taken advantage of in its pure form, soy has shown over centuries of consumption to improve cardiovascular health as well as promoting better cholesterol levels. Raising good (HDL) cholesterol while lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol.
Studies also show if the average U.S. citizen were to replace their meat and dairy intake with soy, they would have a significant increase in their vitamin k and foliate intake; their cholesterol would be lowered by 123 milligrams a day and they would consume greater amounts of calcium, iron, and fiber. Receiving an additional 4 grams of fiber each day.
Though one serving of soy (1 cup cooked) comprises only 16 percent of your daily caloric intake that single serving offers over 57 percent of your daily protein intake and nearly half of your iron, fiber, vitamin K and omega-3 fats intake. This is based on an average 2,000 calories a day diet.
Higher soy intake has also been shown to reduce cancer risks, particularly breast and prostate cancers. But it can’t work alone. To completely benefit from soy, one must also improve their overall diet by enriching it with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Some of the more controversial topics concerning soy are whether or not it contributes to lower levels of hot flashes in menopausal women. This is based on studies showing only 10 to 20 percent of Asian women, who consume a lot of soy, have hot flashes after the onset of menopause. This is in contrast to 70 to 80 percent of American women who experience hot flashes after the onset of menopause and whose diet contains little to no soy. This is still a debatable topic, however, as no one has yet been able to prove that soy is the main factor in the decrease.
If you live in a western country, like the U.S., and wish to take up soy, make sure to buy organic and avoid genetically modified (GM) soy. As GM soy currently makes up 90 percent of the U.S. market.
Source: WHFoods: Soybeans
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