There is so much controversy surrounding soy that it can be quite difficult to decide whether it is still safe to consume or not. On one end, the health benefits of soy have already been established by health and educational institutions. According to the UC Davis Center for Health and Nutrition Research, soy contains minerals, vitamins, flavonoids and fiber. And these can help reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and some cancers.
On the other hand, many health experts and institutions are slowly trying to break the long-held perception that soy is generally healthy by revealing its health risks. in fact, soybeans naturally contain trypsin inhibitors, goitrogens, soytoxin, saponins, and phytoestrogens. And these are anti-nutrients that can cause adverse effects on the body.
A while ago I wrote an article about why you should start consuming sprouts (and how to grow your own) as a part of a healthy, well-balanced plant-based diet.
Read the article here: 5 Big Reasons You Should Enjoy the Nutritional Benefits of Sprouts (and How to Do It)
However, after receiving several questions about soy sprouts, I want to clear a few things up about soy and soy sprouts. Apparently, many people do realize soy is an unhealthy addition to the diet but think sprouted soy is just fine.
So here’s why you should avoid (un)fermented soy and soy sprouts at all cost.
Here are some of the reasons why soy is not as healthy as we think it is
Lectins – Soy contains lectin. When consumed in high amounts, it can mess up leptin sensitivity, triggering hunger pangs even if the body has enough stored calories. Moreover, it can also cause insulin resistance. And this is a precursor to diabetes and other metabolic syndromes.
Phytates – Soy contains high amounts of phytates which can inhibit the availability of calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium in the body.
Trypsin inhibitors – Soy contains trypsin inhibitors that can cause problems in the pancreas and stunt growth hormones.
Vitamin B12 deficiency – A compound found in soy resembles that of vitamin B12. And this compound fools the body that it is receiving the vitamin but the compound is useless. Furthermore, this can actually contribute to further Vitamin B12 deficiency.
GMO – A huge percentage of the soy products grown today are genetically modified. It is known that GMO products can cause allergies, certain cancers, birth defects, sterility and other health problems.
Food-borne illness – Soy sprouts, which are typically eaten raw, have been linked to more than 30 kinds of food-borne health problems in the past years.
Phytoestrogen – Phytoestrogens mimic and block your natural estrogen, disrupting the hormone balance within your body. Moreover, high soy intake has been linked to breast cancer, infertility, and hormone imbalances.
Aluminum – Soybeans are washed with acids in aluminum baths. In short, elevated levels of aluminum are transferred to the end product and are linked to all sorts of health issues.
Scroll down for more info about sprouted soy health risks!
So for every health conscious individual, like myself, where do we take our stand?
The answer: Soy should be taken in moderation and in the fermented, non-GMO form. Although it has some amazing benefits for health, they don’t outweigh the risks associated with it. Moreover, there are so much more plant-based foods out there that will provide you the plant-based protein your body needs.
ALSO READ: The Top Plant Protein Sources
The unfermented form of soy, which is what Americans tend to eat (e.g. tofu and sprouted soy), are the dangerous types of soy. Fermented soy, such as miso, natto, tempeh, and naturally fermented soy sauce or tamari, are safer. Because all the antinutrients have already been eliminated during fermentation.
Many soy product manufacturers use the relatively long life of Asians as a convincing factor that soy is healthy. The truth is, even if you ask any Asian, they do not consume significant amounts of soy every day. As a matter of fact, their soy consumption is usually limited to about 1-2 tablespoons of fermented soy sauce to flavor their viands. Further, they also might have small quantities of miso, natto or tempeh mixed in soup dishes, again for the flavor. Nevertheless, sprouted soy is also sometimes used only as part of a side dish or a garnish, but not consumed in large proportions.
Overall, sprouted soy health risks are just too significant to ignore. Hence, it is better to stick to taking it in small portions, or avoid altogether. Obviously, this includes the unfermented forms of soy including sprouted soy.
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Thanks for reading. I hope this information was helpful. Until next time!
Crazy cat lady, life and food lover, certified biologist, and holistic health coach.