The American soy industry has taken a major hit in recent years due to revelations about the origins of its products, as well as assertions that they are far less healthy (perhaps even damaging) for people than originally thought.
I personally avoid soy as much as I possibly can, especially knowing that genetically modified (GMO or genetically modified organisms) soy accounts for about 90 percent of all beans grown in the United States, and cross contamination of non-GMO crops is rampant. Conventional soy products are also often processed with the neurotoxic solvent hexane, giving me yet another reason to avoid them. In addition, they are also said to contain estrogenic properties, something that is wise to avoid as a male.
For these and other reasons, soy has gone from a health food to a major “must-avoid” food for millions of people seemingly overnight. The extremely popular book ‘The Dark Side of Soy’ offered many of its own reasons for avoiding the versatile bean and products made from it as well, adding fuel to the fire.
Despite these concerns, one top organic, stringent non-GMO soy product supplier, Eden Foods, continues to promote its soy products as a healthy choice, and has addressed many of those concerns in an article on its website.
The Bright Side of Soy: Are Soy Dangers Overstated?
As far as organic food companies go, there are few that I trust more than Eden Foods. Political issues in regards to comments made by its CEO aside (in other words, I didn’t really pay attention to what he said and don’t really have an opinion on it), they’re a fantastic overall company with better-than-organic standards across the board, one that sources the majority of its ingredients from small farms and tests its products thoroughly to make sure they’re GMO-free. They are highly transparent in everything they do and have received many awards for the way they handle and protect the integrity of their products.
But it always surprised me that they continued to produce and tout so many soy products even as soy was continually criticized by most in the holistic and natural food and health communities.
The article (from 2006 but still well worth reading) on Eden Foods’ defense of soy can be read by clicking on this link.
According to the article, various sides of the soy debate all have their own specific interests in promoting their side, with some ultimately settling on the conclusion that fermented, truly organic and non-GMO soy is healthy and its whole soy counterpart is not necessarily worth eating. This is the approach I have taken at the suggestion of the popular naturopath Dr. Joseph Mercola, and so far it is has worked for me.
Eden Foods disagrees, however, going with a quality-is-everything approach:
“Soy is one of nature’s most bio-chemically complex plant foods. Like other beans, as well as grains, soybeans contain many anti-nutrients in its dry raw form. These natural toxins are part of the plant’s ‘personal defense system’, and also lie at the heart of many anti soy arguments. Yet when unlocked correctly through fermentation or proper, thorough cooking, soy’s undesirable properties are negated and its protein, antioxidants, and overall nutritional profile are exceptionally nourishing.”
They also state that most of the studies concluding that soy is unhealthy use isolates, GMO, and chemically derived soy varieties.
Also included in the article is an “Answers to Anti-Soy Claims” section that addresses the presence of anti-nutrients in soy; elevated phytic acid levels, which can block the uptake of essential nutrients; and of course studies showing estrogenic properties which they say can be attributed to the use of isoflavones in studies rather than the whole, organic soybean.
How do Eden’s Soy Claims Hold Up?
I wish I could defer to the experts on this topic, but they seem so divided on the soy discussion that it’s hard to make sense of all of the information.
Eden Foods, as well as the long history of use in Asian countries, suggest that soy may in fact be healthier than we think when consumed in a truly natural, organic and non-GMO way (especially fermented). The Okinawans for instance are some of the world’s longest living people if not the longest living and they are known to enjoy soy-based foods.
The best advice I have for right now is to make sure to avoid mainstream non-organic soy as much as possible, and to choose fermented if you’re wary of some of the claims made by soy opponents.
Also, listen to your body and test organic soy in your diet to see how you may react. My choice for right not is to consume it only organically and in moderation (preferably fermented) until some sort of consensus can be reached on the controversial food.
Considering the raging debates we’ve had on the AltHealthWORKS Facebook page, it’s well worth looking into Eden Foods’ side of the story, and of course making your own informed decision in regards to your own diet.
Let us know your experiences in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!