Which soy to choose?

Identity-preserved Soy Most soybeans grown in the United States – as many as 80 percent – are genetically modified soybeans. They have been modified to allow them to withstand more toxic doses of pesticides. These beans have not been proven to be dangerous, but neither do we have the length of experience to conclusively prove that they are safe. I prefer non-genetically modified soybeans. Organic soybeans are not genetically modified, and have been grown without the use of toxic pesticides or other toxic chemicals.

Whole Soy Products You can find soy milks made from soy protein isolates or from whole soybeans. There are promising health benefits from the isolates (from the FDA heart claims, up to an October 2004 study suggesting a protective effect against colon cancer). Nevertheless, I prefer products made from whole beans. These have a rich history, extending back thousands of years. Every time we look more carefully at whole foods we discover value in the way that nature balances the nutrients.

Apples are a great example of this. Neither apple skins nor apple flesh are powerful antioxidants alone. But when the apple and the skin are eaten together, the antioxidant effect is multiplied. To me, this balancing seems even more important for soy, with it’s many potent ingredients.

Balance Some people talk about soy as if it were the one true health food, the mystical secret of life. Others regard soy as a menace akin to asbestos. The truth lies in between. Soy is a particularly potent example of the everyday magic of whole foods in a varied diet – a gentle, but life-changing power. Sometimes humans over-process or over-indulge in things that could be good for us. But we don’t need to. In whole foods, prepared with care, we can find the intersection of pleasure and health.

Now I need a snack! I think I’ll go to enjoy a bowl of organic whole grain cereal topped with organic berries and a cup of delicious organic vanilla soymilk made from whole soybeans and organic vanilla. Yum!

More From This Series
Part 1 of 4 – Is Soy Healthy for Your Family?
Part 2 of 4 – Soy Wars
Part 3 of 4 – The Bottom Line on Soy
Part 4 of 4 – Which Soy to Choose?

Published on: July 14, 2006
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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