Is Soy Healthy?
I receive many messages on Instagram asking whether or not soy is healthy. Consumers often see soy marketed as a better-for-you alternative to meat and dairy products, but some people question if they are actually safe to eat. The answer depends on how the soy is grown and how it’s used in our food.
The Health Benefits of Soy
Soybeans are a nutritional powerhouse and very healthy for our bodies! They have shown to help protect bones and shield the body from some cancers, as well as help reduce hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms in women.
Soybeans provide all essential amino acids, making them a great source of complete plant protein which is particularly helpful for vegans and vegetarians. Since soybeans are naturally cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat, cooking with them is an easy and healthy way to replace meat in your recipes. These protein-packed beans also contain fiber, B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids.
3 Easy Step When Buying Soy
However, eating genetically modified, non-organic and processed soy products is a concern. To make the healthiest soy-buying decision, follow our three tips.
1. No GMO
Stay away from soybeans that are grown as genetically modified plants (often called GMOs for Genetically Modified Organisms.) Famous plant nutritionist T. Colin Campbell warns, “In altering genes (plants or animals) to produce a specific outcome ignores the biological complexity of gene activity–a fact of nature.” Eating GMOs is just plain weird. Lots of genetically modified soybeans are produced nowadays but the majority is fed to the livestock in the meat and dairy industry so vegans are safer than meat eaters.
GMO is also a huge health concern. Studies show that GMO soybeans contain substantially more pesticide residue when compared to non-GMO crops. Dr. Michael Gregor says this is not healthy because “higher levels of pesticides on GMO soy is a concern since Monsanto’s Roundup has been shown to have adverse effects on human placental tissue.”
2. Choose Organic
Choose organic soy since it contains fewer pesticide residues than non-conventional produce. Organic fruits and vegetables also contain more phenolic phytonutrients. When shopping in US, look for the USDA organic seal to ensure the crop is actually grown to organic standards. To obtain USDA organic certification, a food product must undergo a strict verification process.
3. Less Processed the Better
Third, when shopping for soy products, opt for tofu, tempeh and seitan instead of processed soy products such as a frozen veggie burger made with textured soy protein. A sautéd piece of tempeh with some steamed veggies is much better for you than frozen products that are to imitate meat such as chicken-less nuggets, meatless meatballs or soy beef crumbles, for example.
Soy products that you find in the frozen and packaged food aisles can look appealing and save on prep time, so they can be helpful for busy families. If you do purchase these products and see textured soy protein on the ingredients list, please make sure the soy is at least organic and non-GMO. Find brands such as Amy’s Kitchen that are committed to using organic, non-GMO soy in their products.
Rest assured that soybeans are healthy and safe for human consumption. Just keep the above three steps in mind to make sure you are choosing the best!