Edamame is a popular health food that many people use for snacks and appetizers. However, there is really nothing healthy about it. Here’s why I never eat edamame.
Edamame is usually served right in the pod. It’s fun to scrape out the beans and pop them in your mouth. They are slightly sweet and crunchy – so good!
But not good for you.
Soy is endorsed by the American Heart Association as healthy – well, that should tell you something right there. The FDA allows health claims to be made for it on food packaging – here again are marketing schemes lobbied by…
The soy industry.
Soy has been portrayed as a health food and has been endorsed by the government and many other health officials. I, myself, fell for this marketing scheme in the 1990’s. I thought tofu was a perfect food. I ate all kinds of processed soy – soy milk, soy franks, isolated soy protein in shakes, soy baloney, soy cheese (ugh!) and of course, tofu.
My health suffered greatly and I am still recovering from having eaten a soy based diet.
I have seen this story over and over again in my nutrition practice. Ex-vegetarians come in after giving up a soy based diet.
Not all health problems area due to soy, but certainly soy is a large part of the vegetarian diet – especially vegan. In combination with the low saturated fat, low cholesterol, high carbohydrate diet that is essentially the vegetarian diet, health problems begin to develop.
The only soy products I would recommend are small amounts of properly fermented soy made in the traditional way, such as nato or miso. Proper fermentation results in a probiotic and enzyme rich condiment that should be eaten in small quantities, along with a meal.
The soybean was designated as one of the five sacred grains during the Chou Dynasty (1134 – 246 BC). At this time, the process of fermentation was invented and they fermented the soybean into products such as tempeh, natto, miso and shoyu (soy sauce).
There are a great many studies (here after here and here) that show that the health benefits are just not there – that, in fact, soy may be a risk factor for breast cancer and that it doesn’t help with hot flashes or bone loss in menopause.
Soy products are processed under conditions of high pressure and high heat. This denatures the protein structure and make it much harder to digest.The protein structure is changed so much, that the immune system identifies it as foreign and many people have immunologic reactions to it.
Additionally, in the processing of products such as soy milk, the beans are soaked in an alkaline bath which produces a carcinogen called lysinealine.
Soy protein isolate is used in many products, including baby formula, and has many steps in its processing. The end result of all the processing is a denatured protein that is stripped of all the other macro nutrients (fat and carbohydrates).
It is noted by WebMD that long term use of soy may be unsafe, because it has been associated with cystic fibrosis, asthma, kidney failure, kidney stones, bladder cancer, endometrial cancer, milk allergy, hypothroid, hay fever, diabetes and breast cancer.
As with any grain, nut, seed, bean or legume, soy contains certain substances that prevent it from decomposition. That is why you can store these food items in the pantry for months.
These chemicals are phytic acid, lectins, enzyme inhibitors and oxalates. A person can be sensitive to all of these substances, one, or some, even when properly prepared.
Soybeans are high in phytic acid or phytates. This organic acid is present in the bran or hulls of all seeds (so this includes all grains, legumes and nuts) and blocks the uptake of critical minerals like calcium, magnesium and zinc.
Soybeans have the highest phytate content of all the grains and legumes and is resistant to phytate reducing techniques such as slow cooking or long soaking. Only a long fermentation will accomplish that, hence, fermented foods like tempeh and natto are very digestible.
Tofu or bean curd is not fermented and neither are any of the fake soy products in the marketplace, including soymilk.
Since the Sad American Diet is full of soy and grains that are not properly prepared and therefore have little available nutrition, we have many people who are overweight, but starving for nutrients. This is obvious in the skyrocketing rate of obesity in America today.
Plants have evolved their own particular defensive mechanisms against predators. They contain many chemical compounds that can be toxic, such as the alkaloids in various nightshades. Plants also contain exceptionally high levels of glycoproteins called lectins, which help keep predators away and ensure the continuation of the species.
Lectins are found in all grains, seeds, legumes, dairy and the nightshade vegetables (eggplant, peppers, tomato and potato). This is part of the reason nightshades are highly inflammatory and eliminated on autoimmune diets.
Soaking, sprouting and fermentation are the traditional ways in which people have learned to prepare grains, seeds and legumes. This reduces the amount of these anti-nutrients in the food, somewhat. However, lectins are much harder to break down.
The lectin, wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), can bind to and activate white blood cells, creating an immunological trigger. WGA has been found to be cross reactive with other common food proteins and can thus contribute to autoimmunity. For example, this study showed cross reactivity to the similarly structured peanut agglutinin and soybean agglutinin.
Wheat germ agglutinin or wheat lectin is particularly difficult to break down.
Sadly, WGA is found in very high amounts in sprouted grains and whole grains – the very grains that are promoted as healthy. Those healthy whole grains are actually worse for some people – especially those with leaky gut and digestive disorders.
Oxalates are actual crystals and can range in size from the diameter of a grain of rice to a two inch diameter mass. They can be extremely irritating when they precipitate out. They may cause painful kidney stones or can leak out through other soft tissues causing extraordinary pain.
Many kidney stones contain calcium, but this does not mean that calcium should be avoided.
When calcium is consumed with high oxalate foods, oxalic acid in the intestine combines with calcium to form insoluble calcium oxalate crystals that are eliminated in the stool. This form of oxalate cannot be absorbed into the body.
However, if calcium is low in the diet, oxalic acid is freely soluble in the liquid portion of the contents of the upper intestine and is easily absorbed from the intestine into the bloodstream. If oxalic acid is very high in the blood being filtered by the kidney, it may combine with calcium to form crystals that may block urine flow and cause severe pain as it passes through.
Importantly, these crystals also form in the bones, joints, blood vessels, lungs, the nerves and brain. In the bone, oxalate crystals may crowd out bone marrow cells, and can lead to anemia and suppressed immunity.
Unless it is organic, soy is genetically modified (90% in this country). That means that it is chock full of pesticides – particularly glyphosate, which has been found to be a possible carcinogen by the World Health Organization.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup. It is a non-selective herbicide that was patented in 1964 as a strong metal chelator. That means that it grabs hold of elements and makes them unavailable.
In 1974 Monsanto registered glyphosate as an herbicide. It binds up calcium, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, nickel, boron and zinc.
Glyphosate disrupts plant physiology so that they cannot grow and can’t defend themselves against disease. The plants die as a result of the diseases they may acquire — indirectly from the glyphosate.
Glyphosate is systemic. It takes only one drop sprayed on any part of the plant and it goes throughout the entire plant. A minimum of 20% of glyphosate that hits the foliage is exuded through the plant’s root system directly to the soil. It stays in the soil.
When people eat foods that have been treated with glyphosate – which is endemic in the modern food supply – including edamame –they are ingesting a powerful chemical that kills gut bacteria.
This leads to chronic inflammation. We are in an epidemic of chronic inflammation, which is the root cause of many diseases. Inflammation is an immune system response, because 80% of the immune system resides in the gut.
Glyphosate kills gut bacteria. That’s what it does – it is a pesticide, herbicide and an antibiotic.
You don’t want to be eating this.
These are the most pressing reasons to avoid soy in general and edamame in particular.
Other reasons include the fact that soy is a goitrogen and may affect the thyroid gland in a negative way.
Soy also contains plant hormones called isoflavones that should never be given to children or infants.
I could go on, but I think you get the message. Eating it once in a while won’t hurt you (unless you are allergic to it), but I avoid it completely because I became soy sensitive from eating too much soy, many years ago.
Have you had a negative experience with soy products? Leave a comment and let me know!