Is Soy Good or Bad for Your Health? Science Gives You an Answer
For thousands of years, soy has been a part of traditional Asian diets. These legumes are native to Asia and some evidence even claims that soybeans were cultivated as early as 9,000 B.C. in China. Soy, these days are widely consumed as a source of plant-based protein as well as an ingredient in processed foods. While some people hold the health benefits of soy in high regards, others suggest that it could be bad for health.
1Soy and its different types
Soybeans are typically legumes that can be eaten whole or processed into different forms.
Traditional methods are used for processing soy to produce fermented soy products such as soy sauce, miso, natto, and tempeh. Soy sauce is a liquid condiment while tempeh is a fermented soy cake which originated in Indonesia. Tempeh may not be as popular as tofu but, it too is eaten as a good source of plant-protein. Miso happens to be a traditional Japanese seasoning paste.
3Whole soy products
Whole soy products include soybeans and edamame which are basically immature, green soybeans. These products are the least processed among all soy products. Whole soybeans are used for making soy milk and tofu.
Lactose intolerant people usually tend to consume soy milk as a dairy milk alternative. Tofu is a good source of protein in vegetarian diets.
4Soy-based processed foods
Several processed foods are made from soy. These include cheeses, yogurts, and vegetarian meat substitutes. As such, you will find many packaged foods made from soy like soybean oil, soy flours, and texturized vegetable protein.
Soy supplements are basically highly processed derivatives of soy. For example, soy protein isolate is made by grinding soybeans into flakes and extracting the oil. The flakes are then mixed with alkaline water and heated. This forms a soy concentrate which is spray-dried into a powder.
Soy protein isolate is commonly found in processed foods like protein shakes and bars, and in many protein powders. Soy supplements also come in capsule form containing soy isoflavones.
Soy lecithin is available as a powder or capsule.