Soy is a popular protein source derived from the soybean, which is a member of the legume family, native to East Asia.
It is high in protein, cholesterol free and low in fat which is why it has become a common protein source for vegetarians and vegans alike. But if you are a lover of soy, there are a few very important things you should know!
In its raw form, soy is toxic to humans. To make it fit for human consumption it goes through one of two processes which leads to the two different types of soy products.
Unfermented - Unfermented soy goes through a highly processed transformation to give you products including soy milks, most tofu and soy based meat substitutes such as soy burgers. This type of soy also contains trypsin inhibitors which actually work to hinder the body's ability to absorb the nutrients this soy contains. It is also believed that because soy contains phytoestrogen that mimics the body’s oestrogen, it can cause cancers, specifically breast cancer in the body. This is why many women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer are recommended to avoid soy products.
Fermented - Fermented soy products are traditionally consumed in small amounts by the people of East Asia, often in the form of tempeh and tamari sauce. This process is done by allowing the soy product to air dry, then ferment in bacteria and fungi spores from the air. This process removes the trypsin inhibitors so that the body can absorb the many nutrients including protein, vitamin K2, calcium, magnesium and manganese.
Personally I avoid soy products because the evidence suggests that most soy products do more harm than good, and are of course highly processed. The only soy I enjoy in small quantities are fermented products such as tamari. But you don’t need to take my word for it, if you love your soy products then do some research for yourself so that you can be as informed as possible when making your food choices.
Tips - So if you are going to eat soy products, then here are a few of my suggestions:
- Only eat fermented soy products, such as tempeh, miso, tamari and natto
- Avoid highly processed forms including most tofu, soy milks and soy burgers
- Only eat small amount per day, so no more than one serving of approximately 30 mg