Are you confused about soy? Its likely you have heard conflicting information about this simple bean. Soy has been used by many cultures for thousands of years as an excellent source of protein, carbohydrate, good fats, vitamins and minerals. It is a nutrient-dense food. Is it necessary in a plant based diet? No, it is not.
As a whole bean or a slightly modified bean, as in tempeh (fermented soy), soy milk and tofu, the nature of the food hasn’t changed. You are still getting in the general sense, the whole food, with the exception of the milk, in which the fibre is removed and water is added. The best, of course, is the whole bean, known as Edamame. Steam and rinse these babies, add some sea salt and try to have just one. I dare you!
Why have they gotten such a bad name? First, when soy is broken down and the protein is isolated, the new product is called “Soy protein isolate” or “isolated soy protein”. You’ve seen this on many processed food packages, especially on the fake meats. As it turns out, soy protein isolate increases levels of IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) quite significantly, almost double than cow milk. Recall that IGF-1 is a cancer promoter. Avoid soy protein isolate.
Soy is also high in phytoestrogens, a plant based estrogen known as isoflavone. There is confusion around estrogen in foods. Put simply, animal-based estrogens have been linked to cancer promotion, whereas plant-based estrogens, in this case, isoflavone from soy can actually inhibit the growth of breast cancer and prostate cancer tissues. So, animal estrogens like those present in cow milk: bad. Plant-based estrogens (phytoestrogens known as isoflavones and lignans) found in foods like soy and flax seeds: Good!
Last, genetically modified soy can cause severe allergic reactions in people. In 1999, shortly after gmo soy entered the public food system in the U.K., researchers at the York Laboratory were alarmed to discover that reactions to soy had skyrocketed by 50% over the previous year. Buy organic to avoid gmo.
here is a link to a great read about the cancer fighting benefits of soy: