At Dr. Praeger’s, we have a commitment to using only the best quality ingredients and providing foods that are friendly to a wide variety of dietary restrictions. Whether you are avoiding gluten, meat, GMOs, or soy, we have a variety of products for you to choose from. Those who have Celiac Disease know they must avoid gluten, but for soy, the restrictions are not always so clear. Let’s take a look at some basic facts about soy…
What is Soy?
So what is soy? Soy references the many forms of the soybean or soya bean. Soybean is a species of legume that is common in East Asia, where it has had a very prominent place in many cuisines. Soy can be used in a variety of ways, but is most commonly known for being used to create tofu, or fermented soy foods such as tempeh, soy sauce, natto, and bean paste.
In the United States, soy rose to prominence as plant-based diets started to gain more popularity. Soy is a valuable and ample source of protein for those abstaining from eating meat. The benefits do not stop there—soy contains a large number of polyunsaturated fats, often dubbed “good” fats. Soy also contains iron, magnesium, and other trace minerals that vegetarians and vegans can come up short on if they are not careful.
With the number of ways in which soy can be cooked flavorfully, especially through the use of tofu, it’s no wonder why this food has had such enduring popularity. So then what’s all the discussion about whether soy is healthy or not?
One of the notable claims is that soy is potentially unhealthy due to the presence of phytoestrogens, which are plant-derived compounds believed to mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. However, the evidence isn’t conclusive. Many people have adopted diets that are fairly high in soy, and recent studies have shown that phytoestrogens in soy do not play the same roles that estrogen does in the body.
Should I Eat Soy?
While it is always recommended to discuss your diet with your primary care provider, the most recent population studies suggest that soy is safe to eat and has numerous health benefits. Soy can be safely consumed several times a week and is considered a healthier alternative to red and processed meats. Unlike most plant-based proteins, soy is considered a complete protein that contains all 9 essential amino acids that our bodies need to thrive.
Fermented soy products add even more benefits to your diet. Fermented foods mean that they have been cultured with beneficial bacteria, yeast, or mold. Fermented products may help strengthen your gut microbiome by optimizing healthy gut bacteria which can result in improved digestion and absorption.
Allergies and Sensitivities
A solid reason to avoid soybeans and soy products is when you are diagnosed with a soy allergy. Allergy to soy is considered a common food allergy among the American population. This allergy is usually diagnosed in childhood but can also be caused by an immune system reaction. Symptoms include typical food allergy symptoms such as tingling in the mouth, hives, swelling, and abdominal pain.
A soy sensitivity is different than an allergy reaction and so are the symptoms. Symptoms of a food sensitivity can include fatigue, food cravings, headaches, depression, anxiety, and stomachaches. If you think you may have a sensitivity to soy, or an allergy, make sure to consult your primary care provider or registered dietitian for guidance around your diet. Soy can be found as an ingredient in many different foods and can be tricky to avoid.
Soy in Dr. Praeger’s Products
The majority of Dr. Praeger’s products do not feature soy. However, as with all ingredients that were once the source of debate, there may be certain individuals who wish to avoid soy for the time being. Dr. Praeger’s makes it easy to identify soy-free products by clearly listing it in our ingredients when present.
Much of the scrutiny surrounding soy lies in highly processed soy protein isolates and not the raw whole beans themselves. Dr. Praeger’s products that feature soy use soybeans or soy flour—a flour milled from raw soybeans—which are minimally processed and pack the most nutritional punch. We understand that whole foods are nutritionally superior to processed foods, and we continue to use whole and minimally processed foods for the health of our consumers.