People cast a lot of shade on soy but I’m not even totally sure that they know what they’re talking about. Today, I’d like to set the record straight. This is a lengthy post, but I hope you find it useful and it helps answer some questions. Please share it with people who may be confused by the whole soy situation and need a little clarity.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about soy; some claim that it’s real bad for you and that if you eat too much of it you’ll grow a second head. Others say it’s a ‘superfood’ that can cure whatever ails ya. My opinions about soy lie somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Here’s a quick list of questions I put together based on what I hear the common concerns are with soy. And yes, a bro at Cornell did ask me if soy would give him boobs. Hit me up in the comments section if you have more questions and I’ll add ‘em in.
What are the benefits of eating soy?
Here’s what we know: diets high in soy are protective against breast cancer in women. They appear to also help protect against breast cancer recurrence in survivors and increase survival rate. And like, there are a shit ton of studies that show this. There’s also some evidence linking it with lower cholesterol levels. It can also help reduce symptoms of menopause (so you can focus on being hawt and not hot), and can reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It may also be protective against other forms of cancer, like endometrial cancer. Pretty. F’in. Sweet.
Are some types of soy better than others?
Prolly so. Just like with any food, the more processed it is, and the less it looks like its natural form, the less of it you want to eat. So, you probably want to give soy nuggets (even just typing that made me gag) a body swerve. Same goes for other fake soy meats (that are made using this highly disturbing process, in case you wondered). Look out for ‘hydrolysed soy protein’ on food labels too. Aside from the fact that it’s highly processed, that shit has hella glutamate in it and can be a particular problem for people with MSG sensitivities.
Tofu and soy milk are the middle ground here, in that they are minimally processed. Soy milk is just soy beans (edamame) that have been boiled, blended up with water, and strained. The liquid part becomes the soy milk, and the solids that are left over usually just get thrown away. This is no different than how you make any other nut, seed, or grain milk. The problem I have with soy milk is not the stuff you make at home, but the commercial stuff you buy at the shop that has weird shit added to it. Read this post for more on that. If you want to make your own soy milk, then go for it. Tofu is just soy milk that has been set using a coagulant, and depending on which one they use, it can actually be a pretty good source of calcium (look for brands set with calcium chloride).
The best sources of soy, and the least processed, are edamame and tempeh. Edamame are straight up soy beans. Tempeh is a whole bunch of fancy soy beans that have been fermented into a little cake. Unlike tofu, tempeh is made using the whole soy bean. There’s some evidence to suggest that tempeh may be nutritionally superior to edamame because the fermentation process makes the soy more digestible AND gives it antimutagenic properties (i.e. no growing a second head). Fermenting also has the benefit of reducing phytic acid, a compound that’s present in plant foods that can interfere with the absorption of some minerals in the gut. One last quick note r.e. ‘fu, pick sprouted tofu if you can get your filthy little paws on it because it also has lower levels of phytic acid \0/
Soy suppresses thyroid function, amiright?
Not exactly, soy does indeed have a ‘goitrogenic’ effect in people with marginal iodine deficiency. But so do cruciferous veg like broccoli, as well as flax seed. The answer here is not to avoid these healthy foods but to make sure you have optimal iodine intake: good sources include sea vegetables (kelp, and dulse for example), and strawberries. Failing that, table salt in the US is iodized, just don’t use this an excuse to go cray with the salt shaker.
How much is too much?
So just like with anything, you can have too much of a good thing. A diet that’s really, really. really high in soy can increase the levels of insulin-like growth hormone (IGF-1). This compound is a total bummer and causes cancer and ageing. It’s bad news. BUT, and I want this to be very clear, you have to eat a massive amount of soy for this to be an issue. We don’t know the exact amount that will cause problems, but we can safely say that anywhere below 5 servings of soy foods PER DAY won’t do any harm at all (and it’s actually kinda hard to reach 5 servings per day). I personally think that’s too high for other reasons; eating too much soy can also lead to sensitivities or even allergies. Also, if you’re eating that much soy, then you’re probably not eating other healthy things, you need to get some variety up in there. I’d recommend no more than a couple of servings per week.
But, I’m a dude?
I hear ya bro, you’re worried about growing boobs, or becoming infertile. It’s because dumb people work in the media and like to scaremonger with headlines like “Eating Soy Decreases Sperm Count”. Truth is eating soy doesn’t decrease your sperm count. BUT. It increases your ejaculate volume. So although the concentration is lower, the total number of swimmers stays the same. Plus, what lady isn’t impressed with a large ejaculate volume? As as for the boob thing, total bro-science, you’re not gonna get boobs dude. Lastly, and most importantly, there’s some pretty compelling evidence that soy foods can help prevent prostate cancer.
That’s a lot to digest, so here’s a handy little guide.
* Avoid highly processed soy foods/ingredients like fake meats
* Choose fermented versions of soy like miso, tempeh, and soy sauce for best nutrition
* If you’re really into tofu then get the sprouted variety
* Don’t overdo it: you don’t need soy up in your business every single day. Mix it up with other beans and legumes and limit soy to a couple of portions per week
* Opt for organic and non-GMO varieties where poss
Now for the fun part! FOOD.
When I posted this pic on Insta, you guys went mad for it! Glad to finally share the recipe with you! What you need to know is that this recipe makes for a baller weekend brunch, but the leftovers also works well cold as a summer lunch or dinner alongside a lovely green salad. The recipe calls for tempeh but you could sub tofu if you fancied.
Roasted Tomato, Kale and Herb Tempeh Scramble
- 1.5 C cherry tomatoes, halved
- Vegetable broth
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3T fresh herbs, finely chopped
- 2 packages organic tempeh, grated with a cheese grater
- 1T unsweetened dairy-free milk (I used coconut)
- 2-3 T nutritional yeast
- 2 cups Kale (I used mixed curly/lacinto/purple), destemmed and finely chopped.
- Hot sauce for serving
- Preheat your oven to 200*C/400*F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place tomatoes cut side up on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a very light coating of coconut oil (I used the spray version). Pop in the oven and roast for 30 mins or so. Give them a little stir halfway through.
- While the tomatoes are roasting, heat a little vegetable broth in a cast-iron skillet over a medium heat, probably around, 1/2 C or so. Have more to hand incase you need to deglaze the pan. Once the broth is simmering, add onions and cook for 7-10 minutes until translucent and slightly browned, adding more broth as necessary. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the herbs and tempeh and mix well. Allow to cook through for a few minutes before adding the milk and nutritional yeast. Stir in the chopped kale and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the freshly roasted tomatoes just before serving (you might want to keep a few to garnish with if you're serving straight from the skillet like I did in the pics above). Add a few glugs of hot sauce and enjoy!
- I made mine with oregano, rosemary, and sage, because that's what was available at the Farmers' market that day but you could use whichever ones you prefer.
- To get the kale into such teeny tiny pieces, I add it to my vitamix while the blades are running and it smashes it up into kale confetti for me. Can probably also be done in a normal blender.
Adapted from Edible Perspective
Peaches and Greens http://peaches-and-greens.com/
Thanks for all the love on last week’s post. Not sure if it was the lists or the shameless selfies you liked more, but expect another edition of ‘That’s my Jam’ next month!