Google soy health and you'll get over 14 million entries. The opposite, soy danger, returns almost 2 million links. Some of these sources (on either side of the issue) are obviously unreliable, but many others seem legitimate. Who can you believe?
To start, there are patterns in this debate. Most of the arguments about soy food, both 'pro' and 'con', are generated by groups that are driven by ideology, profit, or both.
The most vocal proponents of soy, for example the United Soybean Board, tend to be funded by major producers of chemically processed soybean products and by pharmaceutical companies who hold the patents for genetically engineered (GEO) soybeans. They tout the benefit of all soy whether it's good food or toxic junk food.
Other soy defenders also have an agenda, though one that is arguably more positive and ecological/health oriented: promoting a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
The anti soy side, centered primarily around the Weston A. Price Foundation appears to be largely motivated by an anti-vegetarian, pro meat and dairy ideology. Its followers have gained strong presence on the internet where the foundation's anti soy articles have been repeatedly recycled. Some soy detractors give approval to traditional fermented soy foods such as miso or shoyu soy sauce, but still they inaccurately and simplistically declare that all unfermented soy is unhealthy.
Of all the research we have conducted at Eden Foods on this debate, we found a few articles that were remarkable in their balance and expertise. Notably, each of these articles stresses the importance of choosing whole soy foods over isolates. If you are looking for sound information about soy, here is a good place to start:
Health benefits of soy - Why the controversy? by Dixie Mills, M.D. Soy Phytoestrogens: The Art of Propoganda by John Mericle, M.D.
 Soybeans by the George Mateljan Foundation for the World's Healthiest Foods
We have tried to follow these authors' examples in presenting the facts as best we can determine, rather than adding yet another propaganda piece to the pile. Your comments and questions are welcome.
Quality is Everything
When one gets to the center of the soy debate, a truth becomes evident: Whether a particular soy food is good for you or bad for you depends upon how it is made.
Soy is one of nature's most bio-chemically complex plant foods. Like other beans, as well as grains, soybeans contain many anti-nutrients in its dry raw form. These natural toxins are part of the plant's 'personal defense system', and also lie at the heart of many anti soy arguments. Yet when unlocked correctly through fermentation or proper, thorough cooking, soy's undesirable properties are negated and its protein, antioxidants, and overall nutritional profile are exceptionally nourishing.
The problem with most modern soy food is that the traditional, thoughtful methods of preparation are skipped in favor of more economical shortcuts. The trend in food processing for decades has been to exploit soy as a cheap protein source, and in recent years as a health food. This is absurd, because the cheap and easy methods not only employ toxic chemicals, GEOs, etc. but also fail to destroy soy's natural toxicity because they use dry processing or improper cooking rather than fermentation or thorough cooking.
The majority of claims that all soy is unhealthy, appear to be backed up by conjecture and flawed studies. In many of the studies that are repeatedly cited by soy detractors, lab rats had been fed very high levels of genetically engineered and chemically derived soy protein isolates, concentrates, extracted isoflavones, and raw or roasted soy meal that was dry heated and defatted using hexane gas. Genetically engineered (GEO) soybeans in at least one study have been found lethal to the offspring of lab rats, and have also been found to be 29 percent lower in choline, which is needed for brain function; 27 percent higher in protease inhibitors; and contain almost double the lectin, soy's suspected allergen culprit, compared with non-GEO soybeans.
The Eden Difference
Looking at the evidence, none of the anti soy arguments can be applied in any way to EDENSOY or any EDEN traditional soy food (Black Soybeans, Miso, Shoyu, Tamari, Dried Tofu, Organic Soybean Oil, or Tekka). To answer those who claim that all unfermented soy foods are harmful, we especially must stress the profound difference between EDENSOY and other soymilks on the market.
Though soymilk was an ancient craft in China, the rest of the world experimented for over 200 years with different ways to make this beverage. It took a collaboration of food scientists at Cornell University and in Japan, a country that perfected ancient methods of soy fermentation, to fully unlock the soybean's potential in the form of soymilk that is properly nourishing and easy to digest. The result, EDENSOY was introduced to the North American market in July, 1983.
EDENSOY is correctly and thoroughly cooked using ingenious yet natural methods, with no toxic chemicals. It is made from multi-tested GEO free, USA family farm organically grown soybeans, with no refined sugar and no synthetic processing aids. We do not add isoflavone supplements or soy protein isolate. The nourishment and antioxidants in EDENSOY come from whole beans and grain. Our continuous testing and quality control measures assure that choosing EDENSOY is the wise choice.
Answers to Anti Soy Claims
Following, point by point are Eden's answers to the predominant anti soy claims.
Claim 1:Soybeans contain large quantities of 'anti nutrients' including enzyme inhibitors that block the action of trypsin and other enzymes needed for protein digestion. (Fallon/Enig 2000)
Answer 1: It is true that raw soybeans contain a number of anti nutrients, including trypsin inhibitors and phytates. This has been an item of academic interest for many years, as the plant kingdom is full of so called anti-nutrient compounds. But the proper preparation and cooking of foods, including soybeans, invalidates these anti nutrients. Approximately 90% of the trypsin activity is destroyed by thorough cooking. These levels can be further reduced through soaking and de-hulling (removal of the outside hull or skin) of soybeans. Also fermentation in the case of miso and soy sauce deactivates the majority of anti nutrients. Edensoy is not prepared using ordinary cooking, but rather a sophisticated series of steps, including de-hulling, thorough cooking and a patented enzyme invalidator, all designed to properly prepare soy for human consumption.
Trypsin inhibitor content
Whole, raw soybeans: 1509 units per gram
Edensoy Original: 24 units per gram
Edensoy Vanilla: 14 units per gram
Claim 2:Soybeans are high in phytic acid - a substance that can block the absorption of essential minerals - present in bran or hulls of all seeds. (Fallon/Enig 2000)
Answer 2: The knowledge of proper preparation to transform beans and grain into food - including the removal of the hull - has been part of our collective humanity for over 10,000 years. As with trypsin inhibitors and other anti nutrients, proper cooking dramatically reduces phytic acid. Again, Edensoy is not prepared using ordinary cooking, but rather a sophisticated series of steps, including removal of the hull (where the highest concentration of phytates is found) a patented enzyme invalidator and thorough cooking. Following are a few comparisons (sources: Eden test results and Bowes and Church's Food Values of Portions Commonly Used)
Claim 3:Soybeans contain haemagglutin, a clot promoting substance. (Fallon/Enig, 2000)
Answer 3: If people ate soybeans raw (which they don't of course), this might be an issue. Numerous plant foods contain a class of proteins or glycoproteins referred to as lectins (a.k.a. haemagglutinin or phytohaemagglutin). Plant foods containing a high concentration of lectins can, in some cases (raw form), be toxic to animals or cause poisoning in humans. According to the FDA's Bad Bug Book: Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganism and Natural Toxins Handbook, this is "usually caused by the ingestion of raw, soaked" or sprouted beans, "either alone or in salads and casseroles" or when certain high lectin beans, especially kidney beans, are cooked in "slow cookers or crock pots where the temperature has not reached a high enough internal temperature to destroy the glycoprotein lectin." As the FDA states, even in red kidney beans which contain about ten times the level of lectins found in soybeans, these lectins are rendered harmless by proper cooking. Dozens of other scientific organizations we found concur. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, "The lectins, formerly known as hemagglutinins, are proteins which possess the ability to agglutinate red blood cells. They are widely distributed in plants and some, such as the castor bean lectin ricin, are highly toxic. The lectin found in raw soybeans has, apparently, no observable dietary effect, good or bad. Furthermore, it too is easily inactivated by heat."
Answer 4: The authors fail to mention that this is not a problem generally related to whole, natural soy foods, but rather with isolated soy protein. According to the Sparrow Health Network's physician reviewed Nutrition Services, "Intact whole soybeans are not high in goitrogens, however, when soy protein is isolated in processing these goitrogenic substances (diadzen, genestein) are concentrated and preserved. The phytochemicals from isolated soy protein are added to a number of the newer functional processed foods such as breakfast cereals, energy bars, health drinks, protein powders, and pill supplements. Under these circumstances cardiac benefits of soy have to be weighed against possible risks to thyroid function: Dose and form of soy should be taken into account." In addition to soybeans, a number of common plant foods contain goitrogens, especially cruciferous vegetables. Those who suffer from thyroid problems or have concerns about such should consult with their health practitioner.
Claim 5:Alkaline soaking solutions used in soymilk processing create the carcinogen, lysinoalanine (also known as lysinealine), and reduced levels of cystine. (Finucan/Gerson, 1988)
Answer 5: Many commercial soymilks are made using 'processing aids' and 'flavor maskers' including alkaline soaking solutions such as hydrochloric and sulfuric acid. NO alkaline or other such shortcuts are used to make Edensoy. Since Eden does not alkaline soak the soybeans used to make Edensoy or any other Eden brand soy product, lysinoalanine is not created.
Claim 6:Alkaline soaking and modern processing reduces the cystine content which is already low in the soybean. Lacking cystine, the entire protein complex of the soybean becomes useless unless the diet is fortified with cystine-rich meat, eggs, or dairy products. (Fallon/Enig, 1995)
Answer 6: Soybeans are the only complete protein plant, containing all eight essential amino acids including methionine, and all non-essential amino acids including cystine. When compared to some foods like meat, eggs, dairy, and seafood, soybeans are lower in methionine and cystine. However, the soybean is higher in cystine than almost all other beans. One need not consume meat, eggs and dairy to obtain cystine and methionine as suggested by the authors. Many amino acids absent or found in small quantities in some beans and legumes can be found other plant foods, thus enabling the body to produce sufficient amino acids for complete protein. Some plant sources of cystine are red peppers, lentils, split peas, broccoli, cabbage, oats, oat bran, rye, wheat, wheat bran, millet, brown rice, brussel sprouts, and onions. Some plant food sources of methionine are peanuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, garlic, and onions.
Claim 7:Soybeans are an unbalanced, incomplete source of protein. Only when beans, including soybeans, are supplemented with some complete and balanced protein from an animal-derived food, can the combination achieve the status of being a complete protein food, with all essential amino acids present. (Beatrice Trum Hunter, 2001)
Answer 7: Soybeans are the only plant-derived source of complete protein and contain all eight essential amino acids and all non-essential amino acids. It is not necessary to consume animal-derived protein for complete protein. The American Heart Association says, "You don't need to eat foods from animals to have enough protein in your diet. Plant proteins alone can provide enough of the essential and non-essential amino acids, as long as sources of dietary protein are varied and caloric intake is high enough to meet energy needs. Whole grains, legumes, vegetables, seeds, and nuts all contain both essential and non-essential amino acids. You don't need to consciously combine these foods ("complementary proteins") within a given meal. Soy protein has been shown to be equal to proteins of animal origin. It can be your sole protein source if you choose."
Claim 8:Most soy products and some brands of soymilk are made with soy protein isolates, which are subjected to high temperature, solvent extraction, alkaline solutions and acid washing. (Fallon/Enig 1995)
Answer 8: Soy protein isolates are not used in Edensoy or any other Eden food.
Claim 9:Nitrosamines are potent carcinogens and these are often found in soy protein foods. They are formed when you spray things out of a nozzle into the air at high temperatures. (Fallon, 2000)
Answer 9: Nitrosamines are not found in traditionally made soy products. They are produced during the production of soy protein concentrates and other powdered food concentrates (powdered eggs, powdered milk, powdered dairy formulas, powdered creamers, etc.) and are the result of high temperature spray drying techniques and chemical processes used to produce the concentrates. Edensoy and other Eden soy foods are not made using chemical processes or ultra high temperature spray drying techniques, and do not contain nitrosamines.
Claim 10:Soymilk was never a traditional beverage of either Japan or China (J. Phillips, 2005)
Answer 10: Archaeological and written evidence exists proving that soymilk was being made in China by 82 AD, but many scholars believe that soymilk and tofu existed several centuries earlier. Furthermore, a tomb uncovered from the Han Dynasty (25 -220 A.D.) revealed a stone slab with a mural featuring a kitchen scene, which illustrates the making of soymilk and tofu. Soymilk was called 'doujiang'. Dou means 'bean' (in China bean most always means soybean) and jiang (also known as chiang) means liquid, drink or beverage. It was used as a beverage and in making soy-based soups.
Claim 11:Calcium sulfate (plaster of Paris) or magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) is used to make a smooth pale curd called tofu. So you might be interested to know that tofu is made with plaster of Paris or Epsom salts. (Fallon, 2000)
Answer 11: It is true that some less than reputable tofu makers may use calcium sulfate or magnesium sulfate to make tofu because it's cheaper. Eden Dried Tofu is made using only the finest non-GEO soybeans, pure water and nigari, a 'bittern' or mineral rich grayish sea salt extracted from seawater, which consists mainly of magnesium chloride. Nigari has been used for centuries in Japan and China as a solidifier in making tofu. The use of other solidifiers is a recent phenomenon. Tofu made with nigari is considered to be the best quality and best tasting. The tofu used to make Eden Dried Tofu is made in the ancient and traditional manner. The freshly made tofu is then simply freeze-dried in the traditional manner.
Claim 12:Soy foods may contain harmful levels of aluminum. (Fallon, 1996)
Answer 12: The author describes aluminum occurring in soy as a result of an industrial processing step. This occurs only when producers use harsh alkaline soaking solutions that leach aluminum from aluminum processing equipment. Not all soy processing uses alkaline soaking solutions and not all soy is produced using aluminum equipment. Harsh alkaline soaking solutions are used mainly in the production of modern soy foods such as soy protein isolates, soy protein concentrates, soy supplements, soy protein shakes, textured soy protein (TSP), etc. Eden does not use alkaline soaking solutions and does not use aluminum equipment. Our test results show no trace of aluminum in Edensoy, testing at a sensitivity of .1ppm. All other Eden brand soy products such as Eden Dried Tofu, Miso, Shoyu Soy Sauce, Tamari Soy Sauce and Tekka (miso condiment) are made without alkaline solutions and with non aluminum equipment.
Claim 13:The soybean did not serve as a food until the discovery of fermentation techniques, some time during the Chou Dynasty. The first soy foods were fermented products like tempeh, natto, miso, and soy sauce. (Fallon & Enig, 2000)
Answer 13: The above statement is inaccurate. For example tempeh was not a traditional food of China. It originated in Java (Indonesia) several centuries ago. The sticky natto variety the authors are referring to is not an ancient Chinese food either, but a product invented in Japan sometime between the 13th and 16th centuries. According to ancient Chinese documents, China did not have an abundant, quality source of protein and child mortality rates were quite high until the introduction of the soybean from the Jung and Hu, people of Manchuria. This occurred during the Chou Dynasty, often described as the era of expansion, 1134 to 246 BC. In the book 'The Loss and the Origin of Chinese Agriculture, 1969, Dr. Ping-ti Ho, professor of History at the University of Chicago stated, "The effect of the domestication of the soybean on Chinese agriculture and on the nutrition of the ancient Chinese cannot be exaggerated. At long last, the Chou Chinese had found a food plant that, instead of causing soil exhaustion, actually helped to preserve and enhance the fertility of the soil. The soybean supplied all classes of the population with cheaper and more abundant protein.... Not until the soybean was domesticated did the ancient Chinese cropping system become well balanced. Once the benefits of the soybean became known, its subsequent dissemination was fairly rapid. The various works written or compiled during the fourth and third centuries BC usually mention soybeans and millet as the two most important sources of food."
Claim 14:People of China, Japan, and other Asian countries eat very little soy, so there is no historical precedent for eating the amounts recommended. (Daniels, 2004)
Answer 14: This statement is misleading. True, there is no historical precedent for eating modern soy concoctions such as soy protein isolates, concentrates, supplements, powdered shakes, textured soy protein, etc. However, there is historical precedent for consuming traditional soy foods, whether fermented or unfermented. For centuries Asians have consumed traditional soy products such as miso, shoyu, tamari, tofu, and real soymilk. They have enjoyed the reputation of being among the healthiest people in the world. While it may be true that some areas of Asia today have low soy consumption, especially certain areas of China, it is not true for all of Asia. In the areas of Asia where soy consumption is still very high, health is at its optimum. One such area is Okinawa, Japan. Soy comprises about 12% of their daily diet. This is almost 20 times the amount the author claims Asians eat, yet Okinawans have the lowest disease rate in the world. It is important to note that the Okinawa population consumes traditional soy foods such as miso, shoyu, tamari, tofu, whole cooked soybeans, real soymilk (not soy formula), dried tofu, yuba (dried soymilk), natto and the like. They are not consuming modern highly processed soy isolates, soy concentrates, texture soy protein hot dogs and burgers, powdered soy shakes, power bars or soy supplements.
Claim 15:Soybeans do not supply fat-soluble vitamins D and A (retinol). These fat-soluble vitamins are found only in certain animal foods such as organ meat, butter, eggs, fish, and shellfish. (Fallon/ Enig, 1995)
Answer 15: This statement again reveals the authors' agenda in promoting foods from animal sources. The American Dietetic Association, the American Heart Association and millions of others attest to the health benefit of vegetarian and vegan lifestyle choices. The 'debate' over whether vegetarian / vegan diets supply enough of needed nutrients has been settled long ago.
It is true that soybeans do not supply vitamins D and A. Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D. All Edensoy Extra varieties are fortified with vegan quality vitamins D and A. Plant sources of beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A retinol can be found in abundance in bright red, yellow, orange and dark green colored fruits and vegetables. Some beta-carotene rich foods are carrots, spinach, winter squash, sweet potatoes, dandelion, red peppers, apricots, and mango. Sea vegetable sources are nori, kombu, and dulse. As fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body, one need not consume large amounts daily as this can lead to an over dose, especially with vitamin A.
Claim 16:Soybean oil is likely to be partially hydrogenated and contain unhealthy trans fats. (Beatrice Trum Hunter, 2001)
Answer 16: This is true of commercial soybean oil, but Eden Organic Soybean Oil is not hydrogenated (made using hexane gas, chemical processing and high temperature extrusion). Eden Organic Soybean Oil is a rare minimally processed, soybean oil made from organic, non-GEO soybeans, that are low pressure, low heat extruded using expeller techniques. It contains 6% vitamin E, an indication that high heat is not utilized in the production; and it contains zero trans fats according to our outside, independent, laboratory analysis.
Claim 17:Saponins are another anti-nutrient in soy, which can only be removed through alcohol extraction. Saponins injure gut mucosa and contribute to leaky gut syndrome. They lower cholesterol and may by themselves become a drug. (Daniels, Nexus Magazine, 2005)
Answer 17: Saponins are compounds found in a number of plants and in animals. Saponins derive their name from their unique ability to form soap-like foam in liquids. They are found in alfalfa, soybeans, chickpeas, quinoa, agave, yucca, wild yam, aloe, fenugreek, ginseng, red clover, garlic, red onions, and paprika to name a few. Washing and soaking soybeans removes some of their saponins. Fermentation of soybeans reduces saponins considerably, as does dehulling. Interestingly there has been a wealth of information in the past 20 years linking saponins to health benefits. However, it is interesting to note, ethanol extracted soy protein used to remove saponins had no cholesterol lowering activity. To imply that the saponins in soy foods can become a drug is untrue.
Claim 18:Soy inhibits cognitive function (National Institute of Health, 2000)
Answer 18: According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), "Although one observational study found an increased rate of dementia among Japanese American men who ate tofu regularly, the study had a number of methodological limitations, and other research has not supported these findings." Mark Messina, Ph.D explains, "One study has suggested a link between tofu consumption and poorer cognitive function in old age, but this is an epidemiological study. Therefore, it doesn't show cause and effect. It did not look at diet extensively enough to draw firm conclusions. And there are no other studies to support it and three clinical studies suggest soy and isoflavones have beneficial effects on cognition. At this point, there is no reason to believe that eating soyfoods is harmful to brain aging." In fact a recent study has found that soy isoflavones may enhance cognitive function and mood in post-menopausal women.
Claim 19:Soy foods contain large amounts of MSG as it is formed during processing. (Fallon 2002)
Answer 19: MSG is not found in traditionally processed soy foods. It is not found in Edensoy or any Eden brand traditional soy product. Free glutamic acid or MSG is formed as a result of alkaline processing techniques using hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, and caustic soda, also known as sodium hydroxide or lye. This process is referred to as hydrolysis. It involves boiling of soy or other protein containing foods in large vats with acid and then neutralizing it with caustic soda. When protein-containing foods are processed using hydrolysis it frees amino acids and if strong alkalines are used, it produces free glutamic acid or MSG. This processing is not used just in modern soy products, it is used in countless products. Some products that may contain hidden forms of MSG (not required to be labeled as such by the FDA) are textured soy protein and hydrolyzed vegetable protein, some soy sauces, modified food starch and autolyzed yeast sometime referred to as yeast extract. Autolyzed yeast or yeast extracts can be found in freeze dried instant soups, ramen noodles and broth, calcium and sodium caseinate, gelatin, seasonings, bouillon cubes, smoke flavors, and in many foods containing the words "flavors, natural flavorings or with other natural flavors (WONF)" on the label. Some companies are now employing newer methods of hydrolysis involving the use of genetically engineered enzymes. It is important to read product labels, and purchase organic, traditionally processed soy foods such as those Eden offers.
Claim 20: Phytoestrogens can effect male animals health and fertility, what about people? (SoyOnline, 2006);
Claim 21:Researchers tested what happened to human sperm when exposed to genistein in a dish in a laboratory: The soy chemical was found to create a premature reaction in the sperm....(Mercola, 2006)
Answer 20 & 21: We decided to save the most outrageous claim from the anti soy faction for last. If any of the bizarre reproductive claims were entirely true of real soy foods, why is the Asian population so large? If their claims were true, why aren't the soy food loving baby boomers, and the thousands of children fed soy formula since the 1960s, all infertile, childless or suffering from deformity? SoyOnline is a website that is basically a mouthpiece for the Weston Price Foundation, and members such as Sally Fallon, Mary Enig, Kaayla Daniels, Dr. Anthony Mercola, and a host of worldwide members in the Weston Price fan club, who like to continually rewrite articles from the 1990s and present them as the latest breaking news on the ills of soy. We have been observing these articles for a number of years and have noticed very little new news in their claims.
The study referred to in Claim 21 used human eggs and sperm, which were placed in Petri dishes in a laboratory. Then synthetic genistein was placed in the dish. Lo and behold the sperm couldn't swim to the eggs. Humans don't inject themselves with pure, synthetic genistein, which by the way affects the body in a very different manner than genistein obtained from a whole food containing other healthful components that provide balanced benefits and good nutrition.
Addressing the reproductive health issue, the FDA stresses the safety of whole soy foods versus supplements, writing that these concerns "focus on specific components of soy, such as the soy isoflavones daidzein and genistein, not the whole food or intact soy protein. These chemicals, available over the counter in pills and powders, are often advertised as dietary supplements for use by women to help lessen menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. The problem, researchers say, is that isoflavones are phytoestrogens, a weak form of estrogen that could have a drug-like effect in the body. This may be pronounced in postmenopausal women, and some studies suggest that high isoflavone levels might increase the risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer. Research data, however, are far from conclusive, and some studies show just the opposite - that under some conditions, soy may help prevent breast cancer. It is this scientific conundrum, where evidence simultaneously points to benefits and possible risks, that is causing some researchers to urge caution ... Unlike the controversy surrounding soy isoflavones, available evidence on soy protein benefits is much clearer. That's why FDA limited its health claim to foods containing intact soy protein. The claim does not extend to isolated substances from soy protein"
Eden brand soy foods, including Eden Organic Miso, Organic Shoyu and Tamari Soy Sauce, Dried Tofu, Tekka and Organic Edensoy, are whole soy foods with intact soy protein. They are not derived from chemically isolated or concentrated soy protein.
In general anyone with individual health concerns is encouraged to consult their health care provider for guidance on choosing appropriate foods.
Good for You Soy is good food when prepared correctly from whole, preferably organic, non-GEO soybeans. In Asia and other areas of the world where soy foods have been enjoyed for centuries, these foods are traditionally included as part of a well balanced diet that includes a variety of whole grains, beans, vegetables, fermented foods, sea vegetables, fruit, seeds, and nuts as well as fish and other animal foods if desired. Modern society seems bent on the nonexistent magic pill, disregarding the importance of natural food and a varied and wholesome diet. In this climate especially we congratulate you for asking the hard questions and making discerning choices.