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Vegetarians Beware: Tofu is Not as Healthy as You Think

Stashed in: #health, Best PandaWhale Posts, Awesome, Longevity!, Nutrition!, Heart, Vegans!, Microbiome, Probiotics!, Fermented

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Some argue that Japanese have included soy in their diet for thousands of years, and lived very long — and industrious lives, often avoiding many of our modern diseases altogether.

However traditionally, the soy they ate was always fermented; their specialty was tempeh, miso, and nato — which went through a process of employing safe moulds to breakdown the toxins within the soybean.

Omg, only fermented soy is good for us?! I didn't realize!

Doctors agree that the vast majority of soy products are not considered healthy, and agree that organically grown fermented soy products offer many health benefits:

  • Fermented food is rich in probiotics. This good bacteria supports gut health, which in turn supports the health of the whole body.
  • Fermented food, such as tempeh, contains vitamin K2, which supports heart and circulatory health.
  • Fermented soy products are known to prevent many types of cancer.
  • Reverses heart disease.
  • Lowers elevated blood pressure.
  • Boosts the immune system.
  • Increases longevity. Japanese women are some of the longest-living people in the world!
Some fermented soy foods to look out for include Japanese tempeh, miso, nato, and Chinese Douchi, Huangjiang, Sufu, Tauchu — and pickled tofu.

Regular soy, on the other hand, should just be avoided altogether — your health is too precious!

The GMO scare here is silly, especially pairing it with the pesticide statement.  The point of GMO grains is to essentially eliminate harmful pesticides.  On the other hand, California just decided to label Roundup as "known to cause cancer".  But that still probably only applies to farmers, not consumers where it will have already broken down.

Right, I'd focus less on the GMO scare and more on the fact that unfermented tofu is bad for us. 

Reading this, you'd think that the Japanese were the only people who ate tofu. The Chinese eat lots of tofu -- unfermented tofu. 

"It’s much harder to determine soy intake in China because diets vary greatly across regions. The most extensive data are available for  Shanghai where large studies of health habits include dietary data from close to 100,000 adult men and women. Average intake in Shanghai is a little bit higher than in Japan. But the range of intake is extensive and a large number of the adults in these studies—as many as 15 to 20 percent of the men and 10 percent of the women—consumed 2 to 3 servings of soyfoods per day."

"And contrary to popular opinion, the soy products regularly consumed in these countries are not all—or even mostly -- fermented."

Thanks for that, Joseph. So is the unfermented tofu bad for them?

All I know is the Chinese having been eating unfermented tofu for 4000 years and they're still with us :-)

That's a good point. Okay I will calm down. :)

A lot of the evidence is confusing. Apparently earlier studies with rats are now considered invalid, because rats metabolize soy differently. 

I haven't read the visiontimes article, but they may be using old research. Here is a link that seems to have recent data. I'm hoping edamame is ok, because I eat a lot of it..... sigh....

I did some Internet research and unofficial consensus is that edamame is good for you.


I did not find a lot of hard science around this, however. 

Thanks Geege. Sounds like net net edamame is good for us. 

The last line is so paleo:

That said, edamame isn't so bad. The problem with most soy foods is that they contain enzyme inhibitors, goitrogens, phytates, and phytoestrogens. And a lot of common soy foods, like soy milk, soy burgers, soy cheese, tofurkey, etc., are just highly processed junk foods.

Edamame (which is typically boiled or steamed) is relatively unprocessed, and has lower amounts of enzyme inhibitors and phytates than most soy products. As far as snack foods go, edamame is certainly better for you than Cheetos or Doritos. It's got a decent amount of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and folate.

Still, it's far from optimal. You'd be much better off trading in your edamame for bacon.

"You'd be better off trading _____ for bacon" is the Paleo war cry!

Dogs agree!

beggin strips

That dog is adorable. :)

Another awful article here:

“While fermented forms of soy are traditional foods, unfermented soy products are not. If soy milk was a truly nutritious and delicious way to prepare soy, you could bet that great-great-great-great Chinese grandmothers would have raised their children on soy milk.”

But in the comments:

Yikes! This article is terrible. Does the author not know that soybean and its products, such as soy milk and tofu, all in its un-fermented form, are used for thousands of year in China? It that traditional enough? Yes, we have plenty of fermented soy products, but we also eat fresh soybean in pods (the so called “edamame”), soybean in soups, soy milk in the morning, tofu in various, glorious forms throughout the day, soy in desserts, ….

However, items 1, 2, 7 & 8 remind me to eat soy in moderation.

Right. Moderation is a good idea. 

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