The soy versus red meat fight has raged for decades. First, red meat reigned supreme and soy really meant bland tofu. Then they swapped places, and red meat was demonized while soy rose to the top of the health food mountain.
These days, no one seems to be sure which is better for you. There’s a lot of confusion, all the way around. And not just between vegans and omnivores, but among people who are just trying to figure out the best way to eat and live healthy.
Which means it’s time for a good old fashioned food fight – soy versus red meat!
Here’s the blow by blow…
Round One: Soy benefits
In the left corner we have soy.
Let’s go ahead and start this bout by focusing on the health benefits were told soy can deliver…
Hot flash relief:
Soy may relieve post-menopausal symptoms, specifically hot flashes. Since up to 85 percent of menopausal women experience
In several tests, postmenopausal women got more relief from soy than from placebo. Other studies have refuted these findings so it’s far from a clear round win, but enough women say they’ve felt relief to say that soy has bobbed and weaved its way to one point.
Some studies indicate that the high levels of phytoestrogens—plant estrogens that react like human estrogen in the body—in soy may reduce the risk of certain cancers.
See Round Two for another take on the soy phytoestrogens.
Some research suggests soy could help with cognitive function – in other words, memory, ability to reason, and focus – in women under the age of 65.
But troubling brain effects might have soy losing this point. Be sure to check out Round Two for more.
One of the biggest benefits attributed to soy over meat is its heart benefits. The trouble is that the studies on soy’s cardiovascular benefits are inconclusive, and may be tied to the kind of soy a person is eating (more on that next) which makes eating any old soy for heart health anything but a sure thing.
And, of course, reports of red meat’s heart dangers are far from accurate… but more on that later. On this point soy and red meat have each other in a clinch, so we’ll call this one a tie… for now.
Although it looks like soy does have a number of potential benefits reaping those benefits seems tricky—or impossible. But the K2 secret can help you unlock soy’s benefits, easily scoring the bean a big point in this round.
It turns out the key to reaping soy’s benefits lies in the type of soy you’re eating. In fact, this one trick can turn soy into a winner when it comes to fighting hot flashes and cancer and reaping brain, heart and bone benefits too.
The trick is to choose fermented soy products, like miso, tempeh, and natto. When soy is allowed to naturally ferment, the phytate content—which can prevent the absorption of some important minerals—is reduced, increasing the soy’s bioavailability and boosting its potential health benefits.
Plus fermented soy, particularly natto, is hands down one of the best food sources for vitamin K2. The bacteria that ferment the soy also produce the K2, which can help prevent osteoporosis, heart disease and brain diseases such as dementia. In addition, vitamin K2 is linked with a lower risk of certain cancers.
Soy scores a well-deserved point!
But while soy has scored a couple of points let’s take a look at some potential soy dangers in Round Two.
Round Two: Soy dangers
These days you can get soy in almost every conceivable form from soy “sausage” to soy “ice cream.” And if you only look at soy’s potential benefits that might seem like a good thing.
But it turns outs soy has a dark side too. Let’s take a look at some hidden soy dangers.
Remember in Round One when we said some studies have found that soy may help fight cancer?
Well the flip side of this equation is that those same high levels of estrogen have also been linked to a higher risk of certain cancers – as well as uterine fibroids, low libido, and premature puberty in young girls, sometimes as young as six!
Regularly eating soy has even been shown to have effects on women’s menstrual cycles.
Looks like soy loses a point.
Soy could be starving your body of critical minerals. You see, soy is packed with something called “phytates” and without delving too deeply into the science of it all what you need to know is phyates can block important minerals from being absorbed by your body.
Which means soy is down another point.
Brain support falls short:
So in Round One you learned that soy has been linked to improved cognitive function in women under 65. But over the age of 65, there doesn’t appear to be any benefit to soy when it comes to avoiding senior moments, holding on to your memories, or avoiding brain fog.
In other words, soy fails to offer brain protection right at the time you need it the most.
But far worse are the findings of one troubling study which concluded that Japanese men who ate the most soy were more likely to experience dementia or Alzheimer’s as they grew older. The wives of the tofu-eating guys showed more signs of dementia too, and the researchers concluded soy may accelerate brain aging. Yikes!
Soy almost scored a point here but definitely lost it in the end.
Soy is bad news for your thyroid, because it can stand in the way of the critical organ getting all the nutrients it needs. Soy contains goitrogens which can block the production of thyroid hormones and stand in the way of iodine metabolism wreaking havoc with your thyroid function.
And a poorly performing thyroid means you gain weight and can’t lose it… you’re cold all the time… tired… forgetful… unable to concentrate.
Soy’s low blow to your thyroid loses it yet another point.
The vast majority of soy in the United States has been genetically modified.
In fact, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture more than 90 percent of the soybeans here in the U.S. have genetically tinkered with to withstand herbicides, with most being engineered to survive exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup or glyphosate.
To find out more about why genetically modified foods are a problem read “7 terrifying reasons to NEVER buy genetically modified foods.”
In a study published in the journal Food Chemistry researchers found residues of glyphosate, or AMPA the compound it breaks down into, in 11 samples of soybeans grown from GMO seeds. While conventionally grown and organic grown soybeans were herbicide free.
Organic soybeans make up about one percent of the soybeans grown in the US. But with the safety of GMO foods being in question if you’re going to be eating soy products look for foods certified as organic and GMO free.
Soy drops another point as a result of GMO dangers
Round Three: Red meat risks and rewards
In the right hand corner we have red meat.
You’ve probably heard that red meat is bad for your heart and your arteries, puts you at greater risk for diabetes, increases your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and shortens life expectancy in general. Right?
We’ve got shocking news for you – it’s all true.
That’s right. Every bit of it IF—and this is key—you’re eating grain-fed, hormone-filled, antibiotic tainted red meat. If that’s the case you’ve got to stop now because that stuff because IS killing you.
Red meat loses four points right away.
But, here’s the thing. If you make the swap to organic, grass-fed red meat, the story changes drastically. Suddenly red meat finds its way off the ropes and comes out swinging in its own defense.
Organic, grass-fed beef is naturally lower in fat and calories than grain-fed beef. In fact, you can lose 100 calories just by switching from a grain-fed steak to a grass-fed steak. Imagine still having your steak, but having fewer calories and fat! Besides, protein’s like red meat help us feel fuller longer so we are less likely to overeat.
Red meat quickly wins two points back.
Heart and brain health:
When you think of heart and brain boosting omega-3s I bet steak doesn’t come to mind. But maybe it should, because the truth is red meats can deliver a healthy dose of omega 3s.
Just make sure you’re choosing the organic grass fed variety because it contains higher levels of omega-3s than regular beef – and you’ll healthier for it.
The omega-3s, such as the kind you’ll find in red meat, are linked to:
- Better overall cardiovascular health
- Reduced risk of depression
- Lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease
With this powerful one-two-three combination red meat scores three more points.
Red meat may be helping you FIGHT cancer.
Organic grass-fed beef is rich is conjugated linoleic acid or CLA. In fact it’s the best source of this important nutrient that we must get through our diet. And although the research is still ongoing a growing number of studies—stretching all the way back to the 1970s—hint that this healthy polyunsaturated fatty acid could help prevent tumor development and spread.
For instance, in one study researchers concluded that “CLA is more powerful than any other fatty acid in modulating tumor development.” And in a 2013 study on rectal cancer published in the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies researchers said, “CLA may provide new complementary treatment by reducing tumor invasion…”
Red meat scores another big point.
Reduce body fat & build lean muscle:
But wait, were not done with the CLA benefits. It turns out the CLA in grass-fed red meat could have some body composition benefits too.
Human and animal research shows CLA can help lower body fat, especially when combined with exercise. And although research is still being done, exciting animal studies have shown significant reductions in body fat and in increases in lean body mass with CLA.
One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that daily supplementation with CLA produced around a pound a month weight loss.
Since grass-fed beef is one of the few sources of CLA, this earns red meat another point.
Organic grass-fed beef is a good source of beta carotene, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin E. That last one is particularly important because the majority of Americans are vitamin E deficient, which is a problem, even if it doesn’t make the news often.
Vitamin E is a powerful player in the fight again heart disease, cancer, and even aging. Luckily, organic, grass-fed beef is an excellent source of vitamin E.
And with that last round red meat delivers the knock-out punch.
Food Fight Results: And the winner is… Red meat!
Sometimes, a battle is close. Other times, not so much. When it comes to soy versus red meat, red meat comes out the obvious winner.
If you were looking to replace red meat with soy the truth is they aren’t all that interchangeable. And while fermented soy, such as natto, does have some great health benefits, a far better idea is to simply include some fermented soy in your regular diet.