Vegetarians Beware: Tofu is Not as Healthy as You Think

Tofu and soy beans on a kitchen table.

Nuts, eggs, dairy, legumes, and soy products such as tofu help meet a vegetarian's needs. (Image: Jiri Hera via Dreamsworld)

In their diets, vegetarians seek out good sources of protein to feel satisfied and keep sustained energy throughout their day, as well as maintain a strong physique.

Nuts, eggs, dairy, legumes, and soy products such as tofu help meet a vegetarian’s needs. This is in addition to fats and the many carbohydrates including fruit, vegetables, and starches. It’s true that vegetarians need a wider variety of food sources to meet their nutritional needs, especially vegans.

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For this reason, most vegetarians have the reputation of having a very healthy diet, but many doctors and nutritionists beg to differ. Some of the so-called “healthy” proteins or meat substitutes that contain soy are not considered safe if you look at what they constitute and what diseases they may lead to.

How the ancients consumed soy

Some argue that the Japanese have included soy in their diet for thousands of years and lived very long and industrious lives, often avoiding many of our modern diseases altogether.

However, traditionally, the soy they ate was always fermented; their specialty was tempeh, miso, and nato — which went through a process of employing safe molds to break down the toxins within the soybean.

Another factor that differentiates their soy from ours is that farming practices around soy have changed significantly in the past 50 years, as approximately 97 percent of soy crops are now genetically modified (GMO) and contain higher levels of phytoestrogen, which can cause cancer.

Dr. Josh Axe shares the same viewpoint that the vast majority of soy consumed now is not healthy. He makes some recommendations for how to substitute bad soy for good soy in your diet:

Both doctors agree that the vast majority of soy products are not considered healthy, and agree that organically grown fermented soy products offer many health benefits.

Benefits of fermented soy products over tofu

  • By choosing organic, you are eating a non-GMO food product that is free from pesticides.
  • Fermented food is rich in probiotics. This good bacteria supports gut health, which in turn supports the health of the whole body.
  • Fermented food, such as tempeh, contains vitamin K2, which supports heart and circulatory health.
  • Fermented soy products are known to prevent many types of cancer.
  • Reverse heart disease.
  • Lower elevated blood pressure.
  • Boosts the immune system.
  • Increase longevity. Japanese women are some of the longest-lived people in the world!
Organically grown fermented soy products offer many health benefits. (Image: LWYang via Flicker)

Some fermented soy foods to look for include Japanese tempeh, miso, and nato, and Chinese Douchi, Huangjiang, Sufu, and Tauchu — and pickled tofu.

These are all good sources of protein and offer a plethora of health-giving nutrition.

Regular soy and tofu, on the other hand, should just be avoided altogether — your health is too precious!

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