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Soy foods: good or bad?

Posted Jun 19 2009 5:41pm
Big food companies have been touting the health benefits of soy so loudly, and for so long, that it’s easy to forget that soy isn’t actually very good for you -- at least not the heavily processed type used in energy bars, canned soups, cereals, protein shakes, meat substitutes, and thousands of other manufactured foods.

While traditional Asian soy foods like miso, tofu, natto, and naturally fermented soy sauce do contain cancer-fighting compounds, modern soy may be one of the most unhealthy products out there. Not only is it full of chemical residues, but consuming too much of it can interfere with your immune, digestive, and hormonal function.

Some conspiracy-minded nutritionists even speculate that soy, which is cheap to produce, has been promoted as a health food simply to boost the profits of big agribusiness. For information on why you should avoid processed soy products, the Weston A. Price website is a good place to start.

Meanwhile, how to distinguish good soy from bad soy? The Cornucopia Institute, a nonprofit group dedicated to sustainable food production, has just released a “soy scorecard” that rates major brands of soy products.

You might be surprised to learn that many soy foods are processed with hexane, a neurotoxic industrial solvent and hazardous air pollutant. And that even some organic soy manufacturers source their ingredients from countries without credible organic standards.

To find out where your favorite brands and products stand, check out Cornucopia’s ratings report here.
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