Soy: The Good, the Bad and the Best

Soy products are growing in popularity in the United States. However, there are a few big controversies over soy. How safe is soy? And how much should you be eating?

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Choose Wisely: Soy Milk

This is a tricky one. You just have to choose the right kind to reap soy’s true benefits. Soy milk is the liquid residue of cooked soybeans. However, many types of soy milk on the market are processed and not made with real soy beans. Fresh soy milk is best, and available at certain health food stores. If this isn’t easily found, you want to choose whole-bean soy milk – to avoid soy milk made from soy protein or soy isolate.

Also, be wary of a far-off expiration date. While it may seem like a good deal, the further out the expiration date, the more likely the soy milk will contain additives to extend its shelf-life. You will also want to check the label for hidden or added sugars. Look for “brown rice syrup” or “evaporated cane juice” – especially if they are one of the first ingredients listed. One cup of this kind of soymilk can easily wind up being 100 calories more than a cup of skim milk. 

Your Best Bet: Edamame, Tofu and Fermented Soy Foods

Whole soy foods are your best bet. They are not processed, so they retain the most nutritional benefits.

You are probably already familiar with foods like tofu and edamame. Tofu, soft and firm blocks of coagulated soymilk, is an Asian staple that is easy to prepare and packed with calcium. It's also high in omega-3 fats, which ensure normal brain function and lower the risk of dementia. Give tofu a try with this simple Asian stir-fry.