Kelp, or brown algae, is an anti-inflammatory, low-calorie food that contains high fiber and a wide range of trace elements such as iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium and iodine. It is also rich in vitamins and proteins, and low in fat.
Besides being an excellent source of nutrients, the presence of fucoxanthin, a pigment which gives brown seaweeds their characteristic color, may also boost the production of protein that helps to burn fat (1).
Early studies also indicate that a sulfated polysaccharide called fucan or fucoidan found mainly in kelps may exert anti-tumor (2), antiviral (3), anti-inflammatory (4) and anticoagulant (5) effects. It could even be a potential protective agent against the harmful effects of anticancer drugs (6), radiation (7) and neurological disorders (8) such as Alzheimer’s disease.
However, like land vegetables, kelps are also prone to contamination, and in this case, by waters polluted with heavy metals and industrial waste. So the same caution should be taken when you are buying sea vegetables. Whenever possible, choose certified organic kelps harvested from minimally polluted waters.
Now let us take a look at five species of sea vegetables that would add healthful varieties to your diet:
Kombu refers to not just one, but a few types of kelp from the Laminaria species. Some commonly used kombu are ma-kombu (Laminaria japonica) and naga-kombu (Laminaria longissima), each having its own unique taste. Kombu has been an integral part of Japanese cuisine since ancient times. It is mostly often used in soups to impart a subtleumami (savory) taste. This thick, long seaweed is also cut into thin strips, pickled and enjoyed as a side dish, or further processed to make kombu powder and kombu tea (not related to kombucha, a fermented drink). Dried individually packed kombu as well as processed kombu products can be found in supermarkets, Asian stores, health food stores…
Commonly found floating in miso soup, wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) is not as hard and thick as kombu, making it ideal for salads.Wakame is most popular in Korean where it is traditionally boiled in soup and served to recovering new mothers. It is also a Korean custom to eatmiyeok guk, as the wakame soup is called, on birthdays.Like other brown algae, wakame is high in dietary fiber, iodine, calcium, and fucoidan. Wakame also contains small amount of omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which may be an important source of EPA for people who do not eat fish and other seafood.
Other than kombu, arame (Eisenia bicyclis) is another traditional food that has been a part of Japanese diet for centuries.In dried and cooked forms, arame looks like hijiki, a thin, black, twig-like seaweed. But arame actually tastes softer and milder than hijiki. This makes arame a good choice for those who find the taste of other seaweeds too strong for their liking.Besides using arame in soups and broths, you can also stuff it in pie and quiche in place of spinach, and stir fry it with other vegetables or slices of meat.
Outside of Japan, is usually available in small dried leaves which soften and expand a few times their size after soaking in water.
Ecklonia cava is not a common brown seaweed you can pick off the shelves. Beyond its places of origin, which are mainly Japan and Korea, it is usually only available in the form of dietary supplements. If you are lucky, you may be able to find dried Ecklonia cava, or known as noro kajime by the Japanese, in some Asian stores.Ecklonia cava is well-known for its high phlorotannin contents, which are actually a group of tannins that scientists are only beginning to understand in recent decades. In the laboratory, phlorotannins certainly look promising. Here is just a partial list of beneficial biological activities that phlorotannins are capable of: anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-HIV, anti-hypertensive, radioprotective and anti-allergic (9). But do note that these results have yet to be replicated in humans and they would need more in-depth research to prove their worth.Meanwhile, if you are eager to get some phlorotannins from your food, you can also find them in other species of brown algae such as arame (Eisenia bicyclis) and bladder wrack (Fucus vesiculosus).
Strictly speaking, dulse (Palmaria palmata) is not a kelp, but a red algae. But its excellent nutritional profile deserves mention.While lacking in fucan and fucoxanthin, dulse makes it up with higher levels of EPA. In fact, one study which compares seven different seaweeds revealed that dulse has the highest EPA content among them, accounting for 59% of its total fat content. Like kelps, dulse also contains all the trace elements needed by the human body, and is especially rich inpotassium. For this reason, those who are suffering from impaired kidney function should limit their intake of seaweeds, including dulse, to prevent mineral overdose.Harvested mainly in Ireland and Canada, freshly picked dulse is available in places where it is found. Elsewhere, dried dulse can be purchased inshort strips or flakes.
Note: Kelps are high in iodine and therefore, should not be consumed in large quantities by people who suffer from an overactive thyroid.
Some of the best healing remedies to overcome inflammation also taste fabulous (I can’t say that about any prescription medications). Plus, foods won’t cause the nasty side effects common to most pain medications.
Anti-Inflammatory Agent:Kelp such as kombu contains fucoidan, a type of complex carbohydrate that is anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and anti-oxidative.
A few studies on fucoidan in recent years have found promising results in using the brown algae extract to control liver and lung cancer and to promote collagen synthesis. The high fiber content of kelp also helps to induce fullness, slow fat absorption and promote weight loss. But whenever possible, get only organic kelps harvested from unpolluted sea.
Sidekicks: Need another good reason to re-visit your favorite Japanese restaurants? Besides kombu, wakame and arame are also good sources of fucoidan. A marine vegetable native to the Tongan Islands called limu moui is also a fucoidan powerhouse.
Arch-Enemy: Seaweed snack. Go easy on seaweed snacks as they can be heavily salted and coated with a thick layer of vegetable oil. Check the ingredients list before buying.
2. Cayenne Pepper:Ironically, cayenne pepper turns DOWN the heat on inflammation due to its powerful anti-inflammatory compound capsaicin.
3. Celery and
4. Celery Seeds:James Duke, Ph.D., author of The Green Pharmacy, found more than 20 anti-inflammatory compounds in celery and celery seeds in his research, including a substance called apigenin, which is powerful in its anti-inflammatory action. Add celery seeds to soups, stews or as a salt substitute in many recipes.
5. Cherries:While many people opt for aspirin as their first course of action when they feel pain, Muraleedharan Nair, PhD, professor of natural products and chemistry at Michigan State University, found that tart cherry extract is ten times more effective than aspirin at relieving inflammation.
6. Dark Green Veggies: Veggies like kale and spinach contain high amounts of alkaline minerals like calcium and magnesium. Both minerals help balance body chemistry to alleviate inflammation.
7. Fish:According to Dr. Alfred D. Steinberg, an arthritis expert at the National Institute of Health, fish oil acts directly on the immune system by suppressing 40 to 55 percent of the release of cytokines – compounds known to destroy joints and cause inflammation.
8. Flax seeds and Flax Oil: Flax seeds are high in natural oils that convert into hormone-like substances in the body to reduce inflammatory substances. Add ground flax seeds to smoothies, atop pancakes or French toast, and many other foods. Do not heat.
Clinical studies suggest that flaxseed oil and other omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful in treating a variety of conditions.
People who follow a Mediterranean diet tend to have an increased HDL, or “good” cholesterol level. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fish and healthy fats, such as olive oil, and has a healthy balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Whole grains, root and green vegetables, daily portions of fruit, fish and poultry, olive and canola oils, and ALA (from flaxseed, flaxseed oil, and walnuts) are also part of the Mediterranean diet. Red meat and saturated fats are not part of the diet.
However, whether taking flaxseed or flaxseed oil as a supplement can help lower cholesterol is up for debate. Some small studies show it has beneficial effects on cholesterol levels, but at least one double blind study found no evidence that it lowered cholesterol.
Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts or legumes, and ALA rich foods may substantially reduce the recurrence of heart disease. One of the best ways to help prevent and treat heart disease is to eat a diet that is low in saturated and trans fat and rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (including omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseed and fish). Evidence suggests that people who eat an ALA rich diet are less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack. ALA may reduce heart disease risks through a variety of ways, including making platelets less “sticky,” reducing inflammation, promoting blood vessel health, and reducing risk of arrhythmia (irregular heart beat).
Several human studies also suggest that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids (including ALA) may lower blood pressure.
However, it’s not clear whether taking flaxseed oil as a supplement would have the same effect on heart health.
Preliminary evidence that suggests taking 1 – 2 g of flaxseed per day can improve the symptoms of dry eye in people with Sjogren’s syndrome. Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks glands in the body that produce moisture, like salivary and tear glands.
Studies suggest that flaxseed oil may help prevent the growth of breast tumors. In one Canadian Study, researchers discovered that flaxseed oil prevented breast tumor growth, likely through ALA content. Patients with breast cancer should not take any nutritional supplement without their doctor’s approval.
Flaxseed oil comes from the seed of the flax plant. It contains 50 – 60% omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). That is more than is contained in fish oil, but the body is not very efficient at converting ALA into the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils. So ALA from flaxseed may not have the same benefit as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from fish oil.
9. Ginger:Dr. Krishna C. Srivastava at Odense University in Denmark found that ginger was superior to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Tylenol or Advil at alleviating inflammation.
11. Blueberry:Blueberries are also excellent anti-inflammatory foods. They increase the amounts of compounds called heat-shock proteins that decrease as people age. When heat-shock proteins are in short supply inflammation, pain and tissue damage is the result.
Anti-Inflammatory Agent: An antioxidant powerhouse, blueberry is high in phytonutrients that confer anti-inflammatory protection against many diseases such as cancer and dementia.
Sidekicks: Blackberries, cranberries, strawberries and raspberries. These berries are comparable alternatives to blueberries and are equally high in antioxidants. So start feasting on one type of berries each week.
Arch-Enemy: Berries with pesticides. Insects and fungi love berries as much as we do. So berries are often sprayed with pesticides to ward off diseases and pests. To make matter worse, it is hard to wash away pesticides from berries due to their size. So it is safer to opt for organic or wild crafted version as much as possible.
12. Blackberries, and
13. Strawberries: In Dr. Muraleedharan Nair’s later research she discovered that these berries have similar anti-inflammatory effects as cherries.
14. Turmeric:Research shows that the Indian spice frequently used in curries suppresses pain and inflammation through a similar mechanism as drugs like COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitors (without the harmful side effects) :
Anti-Inflammatory Agent: This Asian spice commonly found in pre-mixed curry powder contains a powerful, non-toxic compound called curcumin. Studies found that turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effects are on a par with potent drugs such as hydrocortisone and Motrin, but yet having none of their side effects.
Sidekicks: Ginger. This relative of turmeric is also highly prized around the world for its anti-inflammatory benefits, and are used to expel cold and relieve motion sickness and vomiting.
Arch-Enemy: Sugar. It can hardly be called a spice, but the widespread use of sugar rivals that of any spice and has led to a host of illnesses linked to this additive condiment. A diet high in sugar is decidedly inflammation-promoting and should be controlled.
15. Walnuts: Like flax seeds, raw, unsalted walnuts contain plentiful amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids that decrease pain and inflammation.
16. Green Tea:
Anti-Inflammatory Agent: The flavonoids in green tea are potent natural anti-inflammatory compounds that have been shown in numerous studies to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Arch-Enemy: Processed cow’s milk. Non-organic milk carries antibiotics and growth hormone residues that can irritate immune system when they are consumed long-term. Many people, especially those in the East, also cannot digest milk properly, causing distress to the digestive tract.
Anti-Inflammatory Agent: Sweet potato is often overshadowed by other exotic vegetables and fruits. But it is also a good source of complex carbohydrate, beta-carotene, manganese, vitamin B6 and C as well as dietary fiber. Working in concert, these nutrients are powerful antioxidants that help to heal inflammation in the body.
Sidekicks: Spinach. This dark green leafy vegetable is such a rich source of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative flavonoids and carotenoids that it is almost impossible to believe. But it is true. And here is only a partial list: Vitamin A, B2, B6, C, E, K, calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and tryptophan. But be sure to buy organic ones whenever possible as it is also among the foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found.
Arch-Enemies: Processed potatoes. Although potato is a good source of vitamin C and other minerals, potato chips and french fries aren’t. Commercially processed potatoes are usually prepared in overheated polyunsaturated or hydrogenated oils, and are loaded with high amounts of sugar and salt, increasing the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes for anyone who munches on them.
18. Extra Virgin Olive Oil:
Anti-Inflammatory Agent: Virgin olive oil is Mediterranean’s secret to longevity. Its rich supply of polyphenols protects the heart and blood vessels from inflammation. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil are also turned into anti-inflammatory agents by the body that can lower occurrences of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
Sidekicks: Avocado oil. Also known as alligator pear, avocado produces oil that has a fat composition similar to olive oil, containing high heart-beneficial monounsaturated fats. But it has an even higher smoke point than olive oil, making it the ideal oil for cooking.
Arch-Enemy: Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. This commercial oil contains trans-fatty acids that lowers the ‘good’ cholesterol and raises the ‘bad’ ones — a shortcut to contracting cardiovascular disease.
19. Shiitake Mushroom:
Anti-Inflammatory Agent: Enjoyed by the Chinese and the Japanese since ancient times, shiitake mushroom is revered for its immune-boosting properties and its mild smoky taste.
Sidekicks: Maitake, enoki, oyster mushrooms. There is no better way to fight cancer and enhance your health than to feast on a plate of stir-fried medicinal mushrooms. Yummy!
Arch-Enemy: Deep-fried mushrooms and vegetables. Throwing fresh mushrooms and vegetables into a big pot of boiling oil will not only soak up lots of cancer-causing compounds from the overheated oil, their healing powers will also be greatly diminished by the high temperature.
Anti-Inflammatory Agent: Coined by Christopher Columbus as the ‘fruit of the angels’, papaya contains papain, a protein-digesting enzyme. Together with other nutrients such as vitamin C and E, papain helps to reduce inflammation, and improves digestion and healing from burns.
Sidekicks: Pineapple. A tropical fruit worthy of mention, pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that aids in the healing of indigestion, sports injury, trauma and other kinds of swelling. Extracts of bromelain have also proven to be as effective as some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and are used in a number of natural anti-inflammatory supplements for arthritis.
Arch-Enemy: Preservative-laden fruits. Dried fruits can contain high levels of chemicals such as sulphur dioxide, a preservative which has been linked to increased respiratory disease. Eat fresh fruits whenever possible, but if you must opt for the dried form, make sure it is preservative-free.
Note: If you have allergic to the foods listed here, you must of course avoid them, no matter how nutrient-packed they may be. Consuming food that you are sensitive to will only cause more — not reduce — inflammation.
According to the old rule of thumb, you’re supposed to drink eight glasses of water per day (and some experts recommend even more). That can seem like a daunting task on some days, but here’s the catch: You don’t have todrink all that water. Roughly 20% of our daily H2O intake comes from solid foods, especially fruits and vegetables.
It’s still important to drink plenty of water—especially in the summertime—but you can also quench your thirst with these 15 hugely hydrating foods, all of which are at least 90% water by weight.
Water content: 96.7 percent.
This summer veggie—which has the highest water content of any solid food—is perfect in salads, or sliced up and served with some hummus, says Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner and Healthier You and a consultant to Mindbloom, a technology company that makes life-improvement apps.
Want to pump up cucumber’s hydrating power even more? Try blending it with nonfat yogurt, mint, and ice cubes to make cucumber soup. “Soup is always hydrating, but you may not want to eat something hot in the summertime,” Gans says. “Chilled cucumber soup, on the other hand, is so refreshing and delicious any time of year.”
Iceberg lettuce tends to get a bad rap, nutrition-wise. Health experts often recommend shunning it in favor of darker greens like spinach or romaine lettuce, which contain higher amounts offiber and nutrients such as folate and vitamin K. It’s a different story when it comes to water content, though: Crispy iceberg has the highest of any lettuce, followed by butterhead, green leaf, and romaine varieties.
So when the temperature rises, pile iceberg onto sandwiches or use it as a bed for a healthy chicken salad. Even better: Ditch the tortillas and hamburger buns and use iceberg leaves as a wrap for tacos and burgers.
That urban legend about celery having negative calories isn’t quite true, but it’s pretty close. Like all foods that are high in water, celery has very few calories—just 6 calories per stalk. And its one-two punch of fiber and water helps to fill you up and curb your appetite.
This lightweight veggie isn’t short on nutrition, however. Celery contains folate and vitamins A, C, and K. And thanks in part to its high water content, celery neutralizes stomach acid and is often recommended as a natural remedy for heartburn and acid reflux.
These refreshing root vegetables should be a fixture in your spring and summer salads. They provide a burst of spicy-sweet flavor—and color!—in a small package, and more importantly they’re filled with antioxidants such as catechin (also found in green tea).
A crunchy texture also makes radishes a perfect addition to healthy summer coleslaw—no mayo required. Slice them up with shredded cabbage and carrots, sliced snow peas, and chopped hazelnuts and parsley, and toss with poppy seeds, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Sliced and diced tomatoes will always be a mainstay of salads, sauces, and sandwiches, but don’t forget about sweet cherry and grape varieties, which make an excellent hydrating snack, Gans says. “They’re great to just pop in your mouth, maybe with some nuts or some low-sodium cheese,” she says. “You get this great explosion of flavor when you bite into them.”
Having friends over? Skewer grape tomatoes, basil leaves, and small chunks of mozzarella on toothpicks for a quick and easy appetizer.
Bell peppers of all shades have a high water content, but green peppers lead the pack, just edging out the red and yellow varieties (which are about 92 percent water). And contrary to popular belief, green peppers contain just as many antioxidants as their slightly sweeter siblings.
Peppers are a great pre-dinner or late-night snack, Gans says. “We tell people to munch on veggies when they have a craving, but a lot of people get bored of carrots and celery pretty quickly,” she says. “Peppers are great to slice up when you get home from work, while you’re making or waiting for dinner.”
Don’t let cauliflower’s pale complexion fool you: In addition to having lots of water, these unassuming florets are packed with vitamins and phytonutrients that have been shown to help lower cholesterol and fight cancer, including breast cancer. (A 2012 study of breast cancer patients by Vanderbilt University researchers found that eating cruciferous veggies like cauliflower was associated with a lower risk of dying from the disease or seeing a recurrence.)
“Break them up and add them to a salad for a satisfying crunch,” Gans suggests. “You can even skip the croutons!”
It’s fairly obvious that watermelon is full of, well, water, but this juicy melon is also among the richest sources of lycopene, a cancer-fighting antioxidant found in red fruits and vegetables. In fact, watermelon contains more lycopene than raw tomatoes—about 12 milligrams per wedge, versus 3 milligrams per medium-sized tomato.
Although this melon is plenty hydrating on its own, Gans loves to mix it with water in the summertime. “Keep a water pitcher in the fridge with watermelon cubes in the bottom,” she says. “It’s really refreshing, and great incentive to drink more water overall.”
When it comes to a balanced diet, you’ve most likely been taught to eat foods of all different colors. And when you’re eating fruits and veggies like purple potatoes, red pomegranates, and orange papayas, that’s generally true — the richer the color, the bigger the dose of cancer and disease-fighting phytochemicals.
But what about foods on the extreme side of the color spectrum: black foods? Although black might not seem like the healthiest color on the planet, dark-hued foods have been hailed as the newest superfoods because of their high levels of various antioxidants, compounds that protect against a number of diseases, including heart disease and cancer. You should still eat bright fruits and vegetables, but adding in black foods that pack a nutritional punch — like blackberries, black beans, and black soybeans — can give you an unexpected health boost, too.
Black beans should be part of every diet. They’re healthy foods that help prevent cancer because they’re filled with phytochemicals that protect your cells from damage — and black beans are thought to be even more packed with antioxidants than other varieties. Beans are also full of fiber, which has been found to lower the risk for colorectal cancer. A recent study at the Harvard School for Public Health even found that eating more beans and less rice can lower diabetes risk by as much as 35 percent.
Luckily, black beans are easy to add to your diet. Kathy Allen, RD, director of the department of nutrition at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., recommends a great option for an easy dinner: Buy seasoned black beans in a can and mix them with long-grain brown rice. “It’s one of the healthiest, cheapest, and fastest meals,” she says. You can also add black beans to salads, chili, soups, tacos, or burritos.
Sprinkle blackberries on your cereal, add them to Greek yogurt, or fold them into whole-wheat waffle batter, and you’ll get a helping of polyphenols, an antioxidant that helps lower inflammation. Because they’re low in calories, blackberries are the perfect diet addition, and they might even boost your brain health. When researchers from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University fed older rats a blackberry-supplemented diet for eight weeks, the rats had better balance, coordination, and short-term memory than rats that were not fed blackberries.
Edamame (green soybeans) may be all the rage, but there are a variety of soybeans that may please your palate, including black soybeans, Allen says. Soybeans offer isoflavones, saponins, phytosterols, and other active ingredients that help fight cancer. Studies have also found that having this healthy food in your diet is good for your heart. In one South Korean study, researchers found that black soybean extract helped improve blood circulation and lowered the risk for cardiovascular problems.
Most varieties of mushrooms are beneficial and contain cancer-fighting properties. Flavorful shiitake mushrooms, which are sometimes called black mushrooms, will help diversify your diet. In one study of 362 women, researchers concluded that eating mushrooms may lower risk of breast cancer for women after menopause. “Try a variety [of mushrooms] because they all have different flavors and textures,” Allen says. Add them to a salad, put them in a stir-fry, grill, or roast them. Because they have a mild flavor, they’re also great in combination with other foods, such as in chili or soup.
Nutritionally, there’s not much of a difference between black lentils, green lentils, or brown lentils, Allen notes, but they may offer some variety to your diet. Whatever the color, lentils offer plenty of dietary fiber, and studies have found that diets rich in fiber can help lower cholesterol. You can replace ground meat in meatloaf and chili with lentils, eat them over rice with a tomato sauce, or add them cold to salads, Allen suggests.
A study from the Boston University School of Medicine found that people who have heart disease and drink black tea have healthier blood vesselsthan people with heart disease who do not drink tea. Additionally, studies have found that drinking black tea may help lower the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Researchers think that tea’s flavonoids offer protection, and help to prevent the formation of plaques or blockages in artery walls. If you’re looking for ways to drink more tea, swap your morning coffee for black tea, or drink green, white, or black tea in place of sugary sodas.
The next time you sit down to a stir-fry, add black rice, a little-known healthy food, instead of brown or white. Why? Adding black rice to your diet may help with allergies and inflammation. In a laboratory study on mice, researchers found that injecting black rice bran into the rats’ skin lowered levels of inflammation. Researchers also found that mice that ate black rice bran had less swelling from skin allergies. Neither effect was found with brown rice bran.
Soy has been a subject of debate for many years in the health world. For vegans and vegetarians, it is an alternative protein to meat that is believed to be of high quality. However, it’s fair to say this belief is not widespread across the medical and health industry. While many are quick to turn a blind eye to concerns, with so much noise being made about soy’s downsides, one has to choose to pay attention if they care about their health, don’t they? It’s an important subject to explore in that if one chooses a vegan or vegetarian diet, it does not mean they are going to be eating healthy. Many processed vegan or vegetarian foods have the same adverse effects as eating animal products.
One misconception that slips its way past most of us is the belief that soy was consumed for many years by Asian cultures and that they are among the most healthy, so if we consume soy now, we should all be fine. While this is true, there is a glaring difference between how ancient Asia prepared soy and how we do today. That key difference: fermenting the soy.
Un-fermented soybeans, what we mainly eat today, contain large quantities of natural toxins or “anti-nutrients”. Some of the most important to avoid are potent enzyme inhibitors that block the action of trypsin and other enzymes needed for protein digestion. These inhibitors are tightly folded proteins that do not deactivate during the cooking process. Without being deactivated, they have the ability to produce serious gastric distress, reduce protein digestion and chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake. Several tests were done on animals that showed diets high in trypsin inhibitors cause enlargement and pathological conditions of the pancreas, including cancer.
The un-fermented consumption of soy creates an environment in the body that is unable to properly digest and break the protein in soy. This means the soy can become toxic within the body and create a series of adverse challenges. The Asian cultures consuming soy in the past knew that soy needed to first be fermented and so they did not consume it unless it was.
Here is a list of 10 dangers that come with consuming un-fermented soy. I think it’s important that we at least limit our intake of soy until we can truly determine for ourselves whether or not it’s something we want to consume. While this is only my opinion, my research and personal experience in being vegan/vegetarian has led me to feel that not only is soy not ideal for consumption when un-fermented, but my body has felt much better without having it in my diet. I can’t tell you what choices to make, but being more open minded to both sides of the soy argument might lead you to some different choices.
1. High levels of phytic acid in soy reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Phytic acid in soy is not neutralized by ordinary preparation methods such as soaking, sprouting and long, slow cooking. High phytate diets have caused growth problems in children.
2. Trypsin inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion and may cause pancreatic disorders. In test animals soy containing trypsin inhibitors caused stunted growth.
3. Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women.
4. Soy phytoestrogens are potent antithyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer.
5. In infants, consumption of soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease.
6. Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body’s requirement for B12
Soy foods increase the body’s requirement for vitamin D.
7. Fragile proteins are denatured during high temperature processing to make soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein.
8. Processing of soy protein results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines.
9. Free glutamic acid or MSG, a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing and additional amounts are added to many soy foods.
10. Soy foods contain high levels of aluminum which is toxic to the nervous system and the kidneys.
Rackis, Joseph J. et al., “The USDA trypsin inhibitor study. I. Background, objectives and procedural details”, Qualification of Plant Foods in Human Nutrition, vol. 35, 1985.
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