There is a lot of debate about whether soy is good or bad for you. Several studies have reported that soy may increase the risk of breast cancer, in particular breast cancer in women. As a vegetarian (and a woman), I eat my fair share of soy and am hoping that many of those often insecure studies truly are insecure in their results.
I don’t find myself too worried about such studies because there are numerous other studies that show soy is actually beneficial to one’s health and may even decrease the risk of cancer. One statistic I came across actually showed that woman who eat soy as children have a 60% less change of developing breast cancer. Other studies have shown that soy may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. A study done by the Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland in California found that soy foods contain a component that can induce the death of cells, such as cancerous, mutant ones. This component may not only help to prevent colon cancer, but it may actually be harnessed for future use in order fight colon cancer. The continuous debate over whether soy causes cancer or prevents cancer will probably go on for quite some time. However, one thing that isn’t up for debate is the fact that soy foods are generally high in protein, fiber, calcium, potassium, and B vitamins- all essential parts of a healthy diet.
Health.com advises that “if you’re a healthy woman with no history of breast cancer or thyroid disease, soy can be part of a balanced diet.”
However, not all soy should necessarily be treated equally. As quoted in Health.com, Maria Romano, RD, an oncology dietitian at Montefiore-Einstein Center for Cancer Care in New York City says soy is most healthful when eaten in its most natural forms, and one should choose something like edamame or tofu over refined items.
While I generally follow this rule of sticking to minimally processed soy foods like tempeh and edamame, I do occasionally enjoy a soy-based meat substitute. I enjoy eating and cooking with meat substitutes because of their chewy texture and high protein content, and I think the occasional meat substitute-based meal is okay. I try to minimize these meals to once a week at most, but when I do utilize meat substitutes, I fully enjoy the creations I make.
There are tons and tons of meat substitutes and other soy products on the market, and not all of them can be counted on to make a tasty meal. Some of them taste, well, like plastic imitations of some obscure food (definitely not anything like meat), but others prove to be quite tasty. If you’re looking for a meat substitute to actually taste like the meat you may be replacing in a meal, then you may be searching for quite some time. Although most products don’t actually taste like meat, their meat-like texture allows them to be suitable replacements for chicken/steak in recipes, and they are great additions for vegetable stir frys and sautees.
A few weeks ago I did a couple posts about tofu (see What to Do With Tofu and More on Tofu). In my next few posts, I’ll be highlighting some of my other favorite soy products/brands and giving a few simple ideas of what to do with these products.
Are you a frequent user of soy products?