Thursday, January 20, 2005

Soy or not to soy?

Many people are turning to soy as an alternative to animal proteins and dairy products. The soybean is the third largest crop in the United States and we supply 50 % of the worlds demand. Needless to say, the soybean industry is advertising and marketing like crazy for soybean consumption. The big push is that soybeans are healthy for us and can help to prevent certain diseases. While soy does have some potential benefits, there are some issues that you need to be aware of. Soybeans contain a high level of phytic acid. Phytic acid blocks the body's uptake of minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Soybeans also contain enzyme inhibitors that block protein digestion and also contain a blood clot promoting substance that can cause red blood cells to clump together, which probably isn't good for heart health. To me, these soy issues would suggest avoiding relying on soy as a sole source of protein or as a dairy alternative. I would use organic rice milk for dairy allergies. Plain rice milk is actually sweet, but it also comes in flavors. The good news is that when soy is fermented for long periods of time, the fermentation reduces the anti-nutrient levels and makes the soy nourishment digestable. Fermented soy examples would be Miso or Tempeh.


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