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January 04, 2011



Great update on Soy, thank you. This is what I have been hoping to hear - lots of bad noise out there. What about soy yogurt? Is that on the ok list as well (non gmo of course)
Thanks for your great blogs

Steven Rice Fitness

Good to hear this news on soy. I eat quite a lot, and don't have any problems with it.

One thing you don't touch on is the difference with fermented soy products such as tofu and tempeh. My understanding is that they make soy more digestible and provide additional nutrients over unfermented forms.

James Richardson

Thank you for publishing this.

I drink about 3 cups of Silk brand Light soy milk each day, some as a beverage and some with my whole grains + cup of blueberries cooked cereal breakfast. Is there *plentiful first-rate evidence* that as a 65-year-old active guy who works out, I am hurting myself by taking 25 grams protein every other day to help meet my protein intake, in the form of powdered Now brand soy protein isolate (in a shake)? Or evidence for an extra benefit in addition to the protein?

Cynthia Bailey MD

Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting the soy 'bad rap' to rest for me. My intuitive and intellectual senses have been that soy feels good in my body and I've never cut down on it when I've heard the nay saying. Great work and very helpful!


Thanks once again for a very informative article. One thing I've always been slightly confused by in the discussion of whole foods vs engineered foods is....which is which? i.e. TVP? Hot dogs? Soy protein powder? How refined is refined?



Thanks for writing this, although I agree that processed soy and GMO soy might be best avoided I see no reason to avoid tofu, tempeh and soymilk that is organic. I see lots of anti-soy hysteria out there being propagated by the "natural meat" movement people.


Vegans who don't use iodized salt will want to make sure they have a reliable source of iodine in their diet. Though that's true whether or not they eat soy or have hypothyroidism.


I wonder if Silk soy milk would be considered "fractionated processed soy". It certainly is not the same as fresh pressed soy. I actually like the product but have stopped using it until I know more of it's pros and cons. NEVER thought I could get used to water on my uncooked oatmeal, fresh cranberries and blueberries with a dash of cinnamon breakfast but I have. Yogurt mixed in was great but gave that up too. So, thumbs up or down on Silk? Thanks

Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen)

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I am an almost-vegan navigating my way around the food world trying to not consume much soy (based in vague rumors!). What a relief. I'm going to explore your whole blog and really look forward to your posts.

Gael in Vermont

This has been such a hot-button issue amongst my friends! Depending on which websites you read and which naturopath you see, the opinions pro and con take off like a shot. I was never a believer in soy engineered to "look like or taste like" an animal protein, but tofu and tempeh have been in my weekly rotation. Now I'll add more. Thanks again, Deb!


The note at the bottom at avoiding GMO soy (and all other foods!) is so important.
The research on GMO foods is another great topic if you hear anything about it, pass it along.

Thanks for pointing out all the soy research. After you mentioned Messina's work (a couple weeks ago) I read some of the work. I am so glad soy can be back in my diet, too.


One questiion I have about adding soy back into my diet concerns the amount of omega-6 fats found in soy. According to Evelyn Tribole's The Ultimate Omega-3 Diet, 1/2 cup of green, cooked, steamed soybeans has a total of 5.8 grams of fat, of which 2,390 mg are omega-6 fats. Because one of my priorities is to reduce inflammation by reducing the amount of omega-6 fats in my diet (I have rheumaotid arthritis) I'm still a bit reluctant to include soy. Are there any minimally processed soy products that you can recommend that have fewer omega-6 fats but would still confer the health benefits discussed in this post? Thanks!

Chris G.

Great post; full of really great information. 20 yrs of science and 30,000 studies has a lot to say.

On the omega-6 front, recall its the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 that controls inflammation since they compete to bind with the same rate-limiting enzymes. Hence, a meal with soy coupled with omega-3 rich food items such as flax seed or salmon should keep your ratio in balance and inhibit the inflammatory response.

Andrea Carrothers, MS, RD

Thanks for the very thorough and well-researched post on soy. I'm a registered dietitian at Silk, and just wanted to chime in with a couple of notes on our soybean sourcing guidelines and processing as they were mentioned by a couple of commentors. All Silk products are made with minimally processed, non-GMO whole soybeans; no fractionated or isolated soy. More specifics on our soybean sourcing guidelines can be found here:

Healthy Librarian

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful & informative comments.

Bottom line: read labels carefully. The best soy products are made with whole soybeans and it will say so on the label. Everyone has their own tolerance for how many additives they're comfortable with. You be the judge. If it's "whole soy" I don't care if it's fortified with a little soy protein, or calcium, or a real food sweetener--but that's a personal preference.

Eden products, NaSoya tofu, even MoriNu tofu (I found out), and Wildwood yogurt are non-GMO--and all of them (except Mori-Nu)are organic.

It's not hard where I live to find non-GMO soy food products--so why not just go that route?

Silk Original says it's made with whole soybeans--but doesn't have the non-GMO label--**just saw Andrea's post--so now I know--it's all non-GMO!!). The light version of Silk is made with water & soy flour (yuk!)--but it says it's non-GMO--go figure.

Other varieties contained some crazy ingredients--so just read the labels.

As for question about what's considered "unprocessed soy" or traditional soy--the cancer/soy studies conducted in Asia considered these to be the traditional "unfractionated" soy foods: tofu, tempeh, soymilk, miso, and yogurt.

On the other hand, Dr. David Jensen's Portfolio study on decreasing cholesterol with a portfolio of foods had his study participants eat fake meat soy products.

Jo: Unfortunately, omega-6 content really varies across all soy products--omega-6 levels are not easy to find. The only way to really know is to contact the producer and ask them--or ask if they'll test their products. I can't locate it now--but I'm pretty sure that I saw a very low omega-6 content associated with the "lite" tofus, like Mori-Nu & NaSoya. But, if you've already ditched oil, nuts, meat, fast food, & processed food, you have already cut your omega-6 sources by a lot.

Like Chris G. says, it's all about balance. Add (I do) chia seed or flax meal to your soy yogurt or tofu dish & you'll even up the ratio.

Hope that helps a bit.

NOTE: one reader asked that I remind everyone that U.S. made tempeh DOES NOT have any B-12 in it. Don't depend on tempeh for B-12. Take a supplement.

Also, if you do take thyroid meds, just be sure to get levels checked if you're adding soy--or take the meds on an empty stomach so the soy won't interfere with its absorption. Interesting recent study out of Norway recommends taking thyroid meds before bedtime (rather than in a.m.) for the best effect/absorption.

Also, be sure you're getting enough iodine (think iodized salt or kelp if you're a vegan). For other sources, click here:

Healthy Librarian

Thanks, Andrea for chiming in! Good to hear it straight from the company!


Thank you for sharing such a wonderful article! We use only organic non-GMO soybeans.

ken duit

who is soyboy?

Hank Roberts

Very belatedly --

"... across all soy products--omega-6 levels are not easy to find."

Does this apply to the nonfat products (soy milk)? Or is it reasonable to assume those don't have either omega type since those are fats?

Hank Roberts

Still looking for something definitive about nonfat soy products.

Trying to find 'soy milk' that's nonfat without added sugar.

We started a spreadsheet comparing the many varieties we find (and those we don't find locally though the companies show them on their websites). Seems like the stores have whatever came in that week, it varies a lot.

Tried making a 'soy milk' from the nonfat soy powder available at Whole Foods and other places. It's hard to get that well mixed even with an electric whip/beater.

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