Soy Foods: Friend or Foe?

You might think there’s very little difference between tempeh and tofu. But when it comes to your health, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Why? Unfermented soy foods – like edamame, soy nuts, soy sprouts, soy flour, soy protein isolate, soy milk, and tofu – contain two anti-nutrients: trypsin inhibitors and phytic acid.

Trypsin inhibitors reduce the body’s natural ability to digest proteins, and, therefore, assimilate the amino acids in them. Phytic acid reduces the absorption of minerals like magnesium and zinc, essential components of enzymes that participate in hundreds of biochemical processes.

Fermented soy foods, on the other hand – including miso, tempeh, soy sauces, and fermented soy milk and tofu – actually stop the effects of phytic acid. Plus, they create probiotics – “good” bacteria that benefit gut health and increase the assimilation of nutrients in the body.

Studies have shown that it’s these traditionally fermented soy foods that should be credited with the reduced rates of cancer and heart disease seen in Asian populations. Not the soy burgers, soy shakes, and other processed soy foods that have been popularized in the last decade.

If you like soy foods, make sure you’re getting organic, fermented soy products. And, like anything else, consume in moderation.

[Ed. Note: Soy may be touted as healthy. But, as Kelley points out, it may be doing you more harm than good. Looking for a healthy dessert option? Put your sugar-packed soy bar down and reach for a piece of delicious chocolate cake. High in protein and fiber, plus an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, Kelley’s soy-free cake mix delivers wholesome nutrition… in the form of a decadent dessert.