Soy is the bean product that many people choose as a meat replacement, and often comes as a processed food known as tofu.
Sadly, much controversy surrounds this highly processed food, from creating long-term digestive issues, immune deficiencies as well as the widespread use of genetically modified soybeans in tofu (among other soy products).
Soybeans also contain high amounts of phytates, goitrogens and enzyme inhibitors, all of which are considered "anti-nutrients" since they actually rob your body of nutrients instead of adding more.
If you're looking for a healthier alternative, opt for tempeh. It's the fermented version of tofu, and often found as an organic and gmo-free soybean alternative. Fermenting soybeans releases nutrients and suppresses or removes the toxins. It has a heavier texture, making it a heartier meat alternative and highly versatile for cooking.
Tempeh is a food made from fermented soy. Somewhere around 1,000 years ago, it was discovered that fermenting the soybean destroyed many of the toxins in the bean, making it more fit for human consumption.
Tempeh has more protein and fiber than tofu. This higher content helps lower bad cholesterol levels, is more nutritious and also contains essential fatty acids, isoflavones, fiber and of course vitamins and minerals.
Isoflavones in soybeans have a good side and a dark side. On one hand, some claim substances in the bean mimic estrogen, so may raise the chance of estrogen related cancers as well as throwing off the balance of your natural hormones.
On the other hand - isoflavones are also considered a very weak plant estrogen and actually block
Tempeh also seems to be able to raise good cholesterol levels. This good cholesterol travels through your body and collects the bad out of the arteries. It is then transported through and taken to the liver for removal. This is important since it is this bad cholesterol that can turn into arterial plaque and lead to heart attack or stroke.
The fiber in tempeh also binds to bile salts and helps remove them from the body. Since your liver uses cholesterol to make bile salts, the liver must use more cholesterol to form more bile salts. This is yet another way in which tempeh reduces bad cholesterol.
In addition, soy contains Riboflavin, which is a necessary nutrient in the regeneration of glutathione, one of your liver's detoxification enzymes. It contains magnesium, which is a natural relaxant for blood vessels. Soy also contians manganese and copper, both being cofactors for an enzyme called superoxide dismutase., and enzyme that repairs cells and reduces free-radical damage.
The protein and fiber of tempeh is known to help stabilize blood sugar. The fiber also binds to cancer causing toxins and helps remove them from the body. It is believed that because tempeh is made from high-fiber soybeans that it may help reduce risk for colon cancer.
Many people have not tried tempeh. If you have not, give it a shot. You can usually find it in your local health food store or even super market. It has a nutty to bland flavor and a firmer texture than tofu. It is easily digestible for many, but those with soy allergies should avoid it.