The perception that soy is a “health food” is a very common one. This is highly unfortunate, for a number of reasons which I’ll discuss here.
How Soy Became Known as a “Health Food”
But first, let’s review a bit of the history behind soy that created this misperception in the public’s mind. Years ago, tropical oils, such as palm and coconut oil, were commonly used in American food production. However, these are obviously not grown in the US. With the exception of Hawaii, our climate isn’t tropical enough.
Spurred on by financial incentives, the industry devised a plan to shift the market from tropical oils to something more “home grown.” As a result, a movement was created to demonize and vilify tropical oils in order to replace them with domestically grown oils such as corn and, primarily, soy.
For the most part, they’ve been very successful in their campaign to paint soy in a healthy light. So, the information I have to share with you may disappoint and challenge many of you, especially vegetarians, because vegetarians and vegans use soy as one of their primary sources of protein.
But I’m here to tell you that after studying this issue very carefully, I’m convinced that unless the soy you’re consuming is fermented, you’re putting your health at risk.
Fermented Soy is the Only Type of Soy with Health Benefits
There’s only one type of soy that can be construed as a health food, and that is fermented soy. Examples of health-promoting fermented soy foods include:
Natto is actually a phenomenal food. It’s a fermented soy product that can be a bit challenging to locate, but you can usually find it in Asian food stores. It’s very high in vitamin K2, which is a phenomenal vitamin, much like vitamin D.
Together, vitamin K2 and vitamin D provide a large number of significant health benefits, such as improving bone density and reducing your risk of heart disease and cancer, just to name a few. Natto has probably the highest concentration of vitamin K2 out of any food.
Miso and tempeh do not contain vitamin K2 but they are also fermented forms of soy that are excellent sources of health-promoting natural probiotics.
The fermentation process is what makes the soy a healthy addition to your diet, as it breaks down the goitrogens, isoflavones and other harmful elements in the soy. It’s important to realize that tofu is NOT a fermented soy product, and should not be consumed if you want to avoid the health problems associated with non-fermented soy.
It is also important to understand that while fermented soy is healthier for you, it is not wise to consume it in large quantities because it is still loaded with phytoestrogens, like isoflavones, which can cause detrimental feminizing effects.
What’s So Bad About Unfermented Soy?
One of the primary reasons for avoiding soy products is because the vast majority of soy grown in the US is genetically modified (GM) soy. The GM variety planted in 91 percent of US soy acres is Roundup Ready—engineered to survive being doused with otherwise lethal amounts of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. Monsanto produces both the Roundup Ready soy seeds and the herbicide Roundup.
The logic — if you can call it that after all factors are considered — behind GM crops such as soy is that you can decrease the cost of production by killing off everything except the actual soy plant. Unfortunately, consumers pay a hefty price in terms of health instead.