U.S. produces half of the world’s soybeans: Are they really healthy?

Soybeans are the most widely grown and utilized legume worldwide

Photos courtesy of yoppy, Veganbaking.net, United Soybean Board, Kenny Louie, Scott Robinson/flickr

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 18, 2015 — Soybeans are the most widely grown and utilized legume worldwide, according to bbcgoodfoodshow.com.

The subtropical soy plant dates back to 1134 to 246 B.C. and is a native of China.

First cultivated in the United States in the 1800s, soybeans were used as a coffee substitute during the Civil War.

Soybeans attracted the attention of Henry Ford, who is alleged to have spent millions of dollars on research and development to assess their potential for being manufactured for multiple uses. He later served a meal made entirely from soy to the press corps at the 1934 World’s Fair, according to Marcelle Pick, OB-GYN, in his article “Soy: What are the healthy benefits, published in Women to Women (womentowomen.com/nutrition/the-health-benefits-of-soy).

Photo courtesy of gamene/flickr
Photo courtesy of gamene/flickr

Soy is now a widely consumed protein substitute and mainstay, favored by many vegetarians due to its naturally occurring high protein, low saturated fat and high fiber content.

It is also frequently used in the manufacture of many processed foods.

There are many common sources of soy, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Roasted soybeans
  • Green soybeans
  • Soy flour
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu
  • Tofu yogurt
  • Soy hot dogs
  • Miso
  • Soy butters
  • Soy milk
  • Soy cheeses
  • Veggie burgers

Many food-producing animals consume soy as a regular part of their overall diet.

It has been widely speculated that soy protein helps with health symptoms caused by menopause and that it may prevent certain cancers, reduce the risks associated with heart disease, lower cholesterol and strengthen bones.

The widely speculated-on health benefits of soy may not be fully established, requiring more scientific research before any conclusions can be fully substantiated.

There is a growing belief that soy, if it is consumed over the long-term and in sufficient amounts, could actually contribute to many health problems, including inhibiting thyroid hormone production, development of skin conditions, allergies, bleeding, bloating, migraines, development of kidney stones and contraindicating many prescribed medications and over-the-counter pain killers and supplements.

Consuming soy could possibly interfere with current medical treatments or exacerbate a variety of medical conditions.

“One of the primary reasons it would be wise for you to avoid soy is that more than 90 percent of soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified… Since the introduction of genetically engineered foods in 1996, we’ve had an upsurge in low birth weight babies, infertility and other problems in the U.S., and animal studies have shown devastating effects from genetically engineered soy, including allergies, sterility, birth defects and offspring death rates up to five times higher than normal,” according to Dr. Joseph Mercola, in his article, “The Health Dangers of Soy,” published in the Huffington Post.

The positive or negative benefits of consuming soy are influenced by genetics, environment, overall health and how one’s body generally feels following consumption.

Considering that there are possible long-range side-effects, including the development of inflammation and other disease-related processes, with long-term consumption of soy it is highly recommended to consult  a qualified health care provider to determine what is best.

The good news is that fermented soy products from organic sources are likely safe and highly beneficial to health–in fact, they are widely used as a traditional Asian condiment, but not generally as a primary source of protein, according to Dr. Mercola. Some of the condiments:

  • Miso
  • Tempeh
  • Natto
  • Soy sauce

The Chinese have regarded the ancient soybean as a “necessity for life,” according to bbcgoodfoodsshow.com.

Enjoy the many health and culinary benefits of consuming soy in moderation or as a condiment, sharing in the spirit of the ancient wisdom which has brought the soybean to the fore, continuing to delight consumers to this day!

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

Laurie Edwards-Tate, M.S., is a health care provided of over 30 years. As a featured CDN columnist, “LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate, she emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independdence, while delighting and informing readers. Laurie is an educator and an expert in home and community-based long-term care services.

In addition to writing for “Communities Digital News,” Laurie is the pesident and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.

Copyright © 2015 by At Your Home Familycare

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Laurie Edwards-Tate
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California, was among the first to recognize the growing need for services allowing individuals to remain independent created by the aging of America including the Baby Boomer generation, now being called the “Silver Tsunami.” It is the Baby Boomers who are rapidly redefining what aging and growing older means and looks like in America today. Now celebrating its 28th year in business, AYHF is among San Diego County’s Top Women-Owned Businesses and Fastest Growing Businesses, and enjoys a reputation for upholding the highest possible standards among its employees and its emphasis on customer service. Edwards-Tate is a valued contributor to the public dialogue on current issues and challenges in the home care industry, and serves in leadership roles on the Home Care Aide Association of America Advisory Board and Private Duty Home Care Association Advisory Board, as well as the Home Care Aide Steering Committee of the California Association for Health Services at Home. Edwards-Tate is frequently interviewed in the media on healthy aging, caregiving, and health care topics. Follow Laurie and AYHF at www.atyourhomefamilycare.com; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/atyourhomefamilycare, and Twitter at @AYHFamilycare