It’s been a while since I had a controversial post up, let alone a good rant, so let’s hit a frequently visited issue:
Yes, already I can hear many of you screaming and running away in terror.
Soy is a common allergen, and by that I mean that there are people who have a genuine allergy or intolerance to soy. There are also some health conditions such as gout under which people should not consume it. But food allergies and health contraindicators exist elsewhere with gluten, nuts, shellfish, eggs, and dairy. I would never argue on this basis that gluten and nuts are evil and should be shunned by the world’s populace, but for some reason soy seems to be a nice target for some people to hit on. Question is…why?
All issues of the meat and dairy industry and their biased studies aside (money talks, people!), the idea that soy negatively impacts hormones and causes weird issues like “manboobs” has long been debunked by university studies. Yet like the “complete protein” nonsense, people recite this bit of information like gospel.
The only time you should be avoiding soy is when it’s unclear that it’s non-GMO. And GMO anything for that matter isn’t good, but that’s a topic for a whole other post (coming to a blog near you!). Beyond avoiding GMO sources, soy is an excellent protein and has been shown to decrease breast cancer risk, not increase it.
There’s also the debate as to fermented vs non-fermented soy foods, and that too has been shown to be hogwash.
Some facts about soy:
- * It’s a complete protein, and some have argued is the most superior plant protein.
- * 25g a day may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol in studies when replacing animal protein with soy.
- * Soy has a long and rich history in Asian countries contrary to some of the claims made against it. In fact, I suspect much of the propaganda against soy started around WWII due to its association with the Japanese.
- * Cow’s milk provides more than nine times as much saturated fat as soy beverages, so is far more likely to contribute to heart disease.
- * Soy beverages provide more than 10 times as much essential fatty acids as cow’s milk, and so provide a far healthier quality of fat.
- * For all of people’s claims that soy milk will cause hormonal issues, they fail to realize that cow’s milk actually is far more damaging in terms of hormones. In the dairy industry, a cow is perpetually kept pregnant in order to produce milk, and these hormones–along with other crap injected into the cow–can affect our health when we consume the milk from said cow. Why soy gets the most attention is beyond me…oh right, money talks. :-/
- * Soy beverages are cholesterol-free, while cow’s milk contains 34 mg of cholesterol per cup.
- * Soy beverages lower both total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, while cow’s milk raises both total and LDL cholesterol levels.
- * Soy beverages contain numerous protective phytochemicals that may protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease and osteoporosis. Cow’s milk contains no phytochemicals.
Now, I’m a firm believer in not putting any of your eggs into one nutritional basket, everything in moderation, common sense, etc, so I’m not suggesting to go out and eat 500 pounds of soy a day–let alone telling people who have a genuine allergy to soy that they should start consuming it. There are many, many sources of plant-based proteins out there besides soy which are quite excellent. I’m a big fan of quinoa, for instance. But I think people can rest assured that eating soy won’t cause you to get cancer, manboobs, blue hair, or an uncontrollable urge to start “to-fu fighting”.