The Truth About Soy: When Is It Bad For You?

Soy and Genetically Modified Organisms
Certain veggie burgers may contain hexane.
Certain veggie burgers may contain hexane.

Unfortunately, sometimes soy is not the superfood you might think it is. One case is veggie burgers. In order to produce these low-fat burgers, food processors use hexane to separate the oil and the protein. Hexane is an air pollutant and neurotoxin. When used in soy processing, some hexane residue may end up in the final product. Scientists don't know if this is case detrimental to your health, but extreme hexane exposure can cause muscular weakness, numbness in your fingers and toes, blurred vision, headaches, or fatigue.

Not all veggie burgers are bad though. Organic soy burgers aren't processed with hexane, so eating those will eliminate that concern.

Another reason organic soy eliminates some worries is that organic soy isn't genetically modified. What does this mean? A genetically modified organism, also called a GMO, has been changed at the genetic level to act in a way that nature wouldn't have thought of. Most of the soybeans grown in America are genetically modified to tolerate one particular herbicide. The jury is still out on how genetically modified soy could be bad for a person's health, but there are worries that if soy was altered with a gene from a known allergen, like a peanut, that it could cause allergies. If you're worried about genetically modified soy, stick with organics.

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  • Cornucopia Institute. "Behind the Bean: The Heroes and Charlatans of the Natural and Organic Soy Foods Industry." May 18, 2009. (June 18, 2010)
  • Goldwert, Lindsay. "Soy Burger With a Side of Toxin?" CBS News. April 14, 2010. (Date June 18, 2010)
  • "Soy (Glycine max)." June 1, 2010. (June 18, 2010)
  • "Why Low Carb is High Soy and Bad for Men." (June 18, 2010)
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Federal Register 64 FR 57699 October 26, 1999 -- Food Labeling: Health Calims; Soy Protein and Coronary heart Disease; Final Rule." Oct. 26, 1999. (June 18, 2010) /HealthClaimsMeetingSignificantScientificAgreementSSA/ucm074740.htm
  • World Health Organization. "20 questions on genetically modified foods." (June 18, 2010)