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Soy: Friend or Foe?

Soy: Friend or Foe?

If you are trying to eat healthier, incorporate more plants into your diet, and do more vegan meal prep for you and your family, chances are you have come across tofu, soy milk, or edamame.  Some articles you have read promote these foods as an excellent plant-based source of protein, perfect for those choosing to stay away from meat, while other say stay away from soy – it causes harm to the body, isn’t healthy, and shouldn’t be a regular part of the diet.  Educating yourself on soy, what it is and how it can impact your health is an important part of making an informed decision towards whether or not you choose to include it in your diet.

What is soy?

Soy comes from a bean, which is grown in fields as a crop. Once the plant is full size and the bean pods have grown, the pods are left to dry on the stalk before being harvested.  Once harvested, the pods are broken open to reveal the small bean shaped contents, which are used to make things such as tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and much more.  Edamame is the non-dried version of the pods.

Why are some people against soy?

When it comes to understanding the dividing sides of soy, there tend to be two main reasons why some individuals choose to stay away from soy:

1.      GMO

It is true, that many of the soybeans grown, harvested and used in our food are genetically modified.  While the long-term effects of GMO have not been conclusively proven, the potential for them to do harm means many people choose not to consume GMO foods.  The good news is there are many companies - and the list is growing - that use only non-GMO soy.  You can find several of them on the Non-GMO Project website.  These companies have all been certified as GMO-free.  Alternatively, you can look for the NON GMO Project label on the soy products you buy before you purchase them.  As this is a wide-spread concern, there is a good chance it is non-GMO.

2.      Estrogen

Soy in the body can mimic estrogen and bind to estrogen receptors, occupying the space and inhibiting the body’s own estrogen from binding.  While this may sound bad, in people who have estrogen dominance or females who make too much estrogen, as associated with PMS, having this synthetic estrogen which could potentially take the place of real estrogen means the real estrogen is eliminated from the body. At the same time, this eliminates any of the negative side effects that one may experience from it.

How can soy benefit me?

Soy is not all bad however.  As mentioned above, certain estrogen related conditions, like menopause, can be improved with the consumption of soy.  It is also an excellent source of plant-based protein.  In addition, tofu is an excellent source of calcium, another benefit for those choosing not to consume dairy and relying on other healthy calcium sources in their weekly vegan food kit. Again, it is always advisable to ensure you are selecting organic non-GMO soy options to take advantage of these benefits.

Ultimately, it comes down to making an individual decision of what is best for you, based on the information you have and what suits your lifestyle best.  And just like many other ingredients you may choose not to put into your body, you can request your food from Savor Living to be soy-free when sign up for your meal subscription service!

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