Is soybeans good or bad for you?
Soybeans is consumed in Asia from longtime as Tofu, edamame (green soybeans in pods) and fermented products like Natto, Miso and soy sauce . It is relatively new in the western world. In US, it is available mostly in processed form as soy milk, soybean oil and soy flour.
There is lots of controversy around soybeans. Is it good or bad for you?
- High in proteins, vitamins and minerals:
The nutrition provided is very impressive. 100 gms of soybeans contains 17 gms of protein, which is very good for a plant source of protein. So, it is an ideal vegan protein diet.
It has very good amount of minerals and vitamins. Vitamin K in soy products is also significant.
- Low glycemic index:
Low glycemic index (measure of spike in blood sugar after a meal) makes it an ideal choice for diabetic patients.
- High fibre content:
High fibre content helps in lowering bad cholesterol and improving digestion.
- Goitrogenous :
It contains isoflavones, which interferes with thyroid function. This leads to hypothyroidism and even thyroid cancer in some cases.
- Endocrine disruptor:
Isoflavones act as phytoestrogens, a plant source of estrogen. It mimics estrogen hormone in human body and bind to estrogen receptors.
But, the effect is not very significant, as human estrogen is much stronger than phytoestrogens.
This is good for post menopausal women as an alternative estrogen replacement therapy. But this could lead to problems in conceiving a baby and even breast cancer, in some cases. However, in asia, where the soy consumption is most, breast cancer levels are lower compared to the west.
In men, it can lower testosterone levels.
- Genetically modified / processed soybeans:
Genetically modified soybeans makes 90% of the US production today. It is not good for health.
Most of the consumption in US is only processed soy products. Processed foods add only empty calories. There is no addition of nutrients.
- High phytate content:
It has high phytic acid or phytates content. So, it blocks absorption of essentrial minerals. Therefore, it is not a paleo friendly diet.
- High omega 6 fatty acids content in oil:
Soybean oil contains mostly omega 6 fatty acids. This could lead to inflammation in the long run.
- High trypsin inhibitors:
It contains trypsin inhibitors, which interfere with protein digesion. Eventually, this leads to pancreatic disorders.
- Dementia risk:
Tofu consumption beyond two servings per week increases dementia risk, according to a study by Loughborough university. However, fermented soy products protects against alzheimer’s disease, according to another study by the same university.
How soybeans is still considered a healthy food, despite the negatives?
In Asian cultures, people consume soybeans and lead a healthy life. But they consume mainly fermented products like Soy sauce, Tempeh, Natto and Miso, not processed soybeans.
Tempeh is a fermented soybeans product with high nutrional value. You can learn how to make Tempeh here
Natto is full of natto kinase, which prevents blocks in the heart. It is highly effective in preventing heart attacks. You can learn how to make Natto here
Miso soup is famous for its taste. It is also very good for health. It is believed to protect from cancer.You can learn how to make Miso here
Soy sauce or Tamari are derivatives of the process of making Miso. You can also prepare it separately.
Eat Tofu in moderation. Always avoid soy milk, soy based infant formula and processed soy products.
Avoid soybean oil. Because it has high omega 6 fatty acids content.
Eat soybeans in small quantities after soaking in water for atleast 10 hours and then cooking.