How Healthy Are Soy Products?

I went to visit a friend over the weekend who made me the most delicious meal. She has been a vegan for over 10 years now and over that time she has learned how to serve up the best non-meat meals that can please even a meat eater like myself. After an incredible dinner of portabello mushroom burgers and salad, we all feasted on the pièce de résistance, the tofu chocolate cheesecake. This dessert was so decadent that I feel inspired to give tofu a place, be it a small place, in my weekly diet if I can. Really the only tofu recipe I’ve ever made is Shake ‘n Bake Tofu Steaks (see recipe below this post), but I’m interested in branching out a bit.

This is a picture of a Chocolate Marble Tofu Cheesecake that was published, along with the recipe, on Simply Anne's blog (simplyannes.blogspot.com). It looks divine.

This is a picture of a Chocolate Marble Tofu Cheesecake that was published, along with the recipe, on simplyannes.blogspot.com. I didn't know tofu could look so good.

Truthfully, I am not a big fan of soy products in general and I don’t usually buy them or eat them. Although I know they have some great health benefits, I am also aware that some studies suggest they can have some unhealthy effects. So before I head out and buy some tofu for my refrigerator, I decided to look into how healthy soy products really are. I found this information really interesting and have summarized it below.

Soy is often considered to be a great source of protein and is available in a variety of forms, such as tofu, soymilk, soy cheese,tacos, burgers, etc. Soy products are enjoyed by those looking for an alternative to certain beverages and foods, such as milk and meat (i.e. lactose intolerant individuals, vegetarians, vegans) and by many people who believe it to be a healthy food that is natural and good for you.

There is no question that soy certainly does contain a lot of healthy ingredients. Soybeans are rich in protein and have the highest concentration of protein compared to all other legumes. They are also rich in vitamins A, B1, B and other minerals and are a good source of fiber. In terms of soymilk there is a larger variety of complex carbohydrates compared to cow’s milk. This makes the soy beverage a better choice for some diabetics as it is less likely to over stimulate blood sugar levels.

In terms of calorie content in regard to soymilk, a single cup of unsweetened soy milk contains 90 calories and a total fat content of 4.5 grams, with 0.5 grams of saturated fat. Thus, it is very low in fat and highly unsaturated. It also has no cholesterol. Furthermore, one of the elements found in soy is isoflavones that is a photochemical derived from plants and is biologically active. It is believed that this compound may help relieve symptoms of menopause, prevent cancer, slow osteoporosis and decrease the risk of heart disease.

However, just as soy may have many health benefits, it also carries some health risks. For instance, due to the fact that soy products contain phytic acid, in some cases they can actually cause a person’s body to block the absorption of proteins and minerals, including magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc. Furthermore, it is also thought that soy can have a negative affect on the thyroid, inhibiting the performance of this gland. Therefore, people with pre-existing thyroid conditions are warned not to use it, especially since the link between soy and thyroid disease and cancer is not fully understood.

Some researchers believe there may also be a link between soy and breast cancer. The reason is it is high in phytoestrogens, a natural chemical that exists within the plant and mimics the female hormone estrogen. Though it is not fully understood why, it is thought that due to the fact estrogen stimulates cell production in different part of the body, including the breast, the more estrogen a non-menopausal woman is exposed to, the greater her risk for breast cancer.

Hence, while soy products certainly do have some great benefits, they do carry certain risks that shouldn’t be ignored. For the most part, however, eating soy products once or twice a week will not pose any danger to your health. Really, the only people at risk are the ones who eat a diet rich in soy. The good news is that there are limitless vegetarian and vegan options so that soy does not have to be a staple of your diet, even if you don’t eat meat.

Shake ‘n Bake Tofu Steaks

1 block firm or extra firm tofu (freeze first then defrost before cooking)

1 cup vegetable or chicken stock

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

1 box Shake ‘n Bake

This recipe is sooo easy. Take your defrosted tofu out of its container and squeeze as much of the liquid out of it that you can without mushing it all up. Cut the block of tofu down the middle lenght-wise so you have two big tofu steaks. Pour the vegetable stock into a shallow dish and place in the tofu steaks. Rub the steaks with the olive oil and honey and let them sit in the stock marinade for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 400 F. Put the tofu, one steak at a time, in the Shake ‘n Bake bag along with the seasoning and shake it up (not too hard or it will break apart). Do the same with the other steak. Place the steaks on a greased baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes, or until nice and crispy, flipping them once. Enjoy.

Other Related Posts and Articles You May Find Interesting: “Eco-Atkins – Atkins Diet for Vegetarians“,”Foods that Improve Heart Health“, “Healthy Weight Loss Diet May Prevent Cancer” and “Are Health Foods Really That Healthy?


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2 comments to How Healthy Are Soy Products?

  • anemia

    Well, soy products are quite healthy. Soy products have high protein content. Several recent scientific studies have shown that a regular intake of traditional soy foods may help to prevent breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer. They help to prevent heart diseases and osteoporosis. They also prevent menopause symptoms and also have probiotic effects.

  • brandi

    I didn’t know that soy products are so healthy for you when you are trying to lose weight. It is great to have people post this on the internet for me to be able to help with my weight loss.

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