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Vegetarians Beware: Tofu is Not as Healthy as You Think

Soy foods are an important part of the Japanese diet, but traditionally soya beans were fermented. (Image: edar/Pixabay)
Soy foods are an important part of the Japanese diet, but traditionally soya beans were fermented. (Image: edar/Pixabay)

In their diets, vegetarians seek out good sources of protein to feel satisfied, and keep sustained energy throughout their day as well as maintain a strong physique.

Nuts, eggs, dairy, legumes, and soy products help meet a vegetarian’s needs. This is in addition to fats, and the many carbohydrates including fruit, vegetables, and starches. It’s true that vegetarians need a wider variety of food sources to meet their nutritional needs, especially for vegans.

Tofu and avocado salad looks really fresh, but maybe it could be improved if it were tempeh instead. (Image: kakuko/pixabay)

Tofu and avocado salad looks really fresh, but maybe it could be improved if it were tempeh instead. (Image: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain)

For this reason, most vegetarians have a reputation as having a very healthy diet but many doctors, and nutritionists beg to differ. Some of the so called ‘healthy’ proteins or meat substitutes that contain soy are not considered safe, if you look at what they constitute, and what diseases they may lead to.

How the ancients consumed soy

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.

Tempeh a traditional food in japan, is fermented with a special type of mold. (Image: FoodCraftLab/flickr)

Tempeh a traditional food in japan, is fermented with a special type of mold. (Image: FoodCraftLab via Compfight cc)

Another factor that differentiates their soy from ours, is that farming practices around soy has changed significantly in the past 50 years, as approximately 97 per cent of soy crops are now genetically modified (GMO), and contain higher levels of phytoestrogen, which can cause cancer.

Dr. Josh Axe, shares the same viewpoint that the vast majority of soy consumed now is not healthy. He makes some recommendations of how to substitute bad soy for good soy in your diet:

Both 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.

Benefits of fermented soy products

  • By choosing organic, you are eating a non-GMO food product that is free form pesticides.
  • 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.
  • Reverse heart disease.
  • lower elevated blood pressure.
  • Boosts the immune system.
  • Increase longevity. Japanese women are some of the longest-living people in the world!
Miso soup is a traditional cultured soup or beverage in Japan. (Image: miheco/flickr)

Miso soup is a traditional cultured soup or beverage in Japan. (Image: miheco via Compfight cc )

Some fermented soy foods to look out for include Japanese tempeh, miso, nato, and Chinese Douchi, Huangjiang, Sufu, Tauchu — and pickled tofu.

These are all a good source of protein, and offer a plethora of heath-giving nutrition.

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

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