The main benefit of convenience foods is… well, their convenience. But a stroll through your supermarket in search for healthy convenience foods is likely to leave you hungry for better options.
And with good reason. Convenience foods are packed with dietary pitfalls that can sabotage your waistline and harm your health.
Even “natural” and organic convenience foods that have shorter ingredient lists and contain no additives or preservatives can pose dietary dilemmas.
And one reason is soy.
This so-called “healthy” ingredient is packed into everything from pizza and pastas… to burritos and bran cereals… to protein bars and baby foods. Why? Because it is inexpensive and versatile, taking on any shape or flavor the manufacturer chooses.
And since we’ve been led to believe that soy is a healthy alternative to animal protein, food companies are happy to keep using this inexpensive protein source. But the real cost could be your health.
Now, I’m not talking about traditional fermented soy foods – like tempeh, tamari and miso. I’m talking about “rendered” soy including soy protein isolate, textured vegetable protein and hydrolyzed plant protein to name a few. Here’s why…
Soy… With a Side of Gasoline?
It takes a lot of processing to transform a fresh green soybean into mock-meat “vegetable protein”. And the process relies on a “secret ingredient”.
Hexane is a byproduct of gasoline. It is used as an industrial solvent and degreaser. And it’s also used to extract edible oils from seed and vegetable crops – primarily soybeans.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), short-term exposure to hexane at high doses can affect the central nervous system. But even small exposures can be harmful.
So how much is too much?
Recent studies conducted by The Cornucopia Institute found hexane residues in common soy food products ten times higher than what is considered “normal” by the FDA.
While the use of hexane is strictly forbidden in organic products, “natural” products containing soy proteins are almost always extracted with this dangerous solvent.
But beaner beware!
Industry insiders estimate that as much as 50% of the “organic” soybeans consumed in the United States are imported from China – where such lax standards allowed pet food and even baby food to be tainted with melamine – a chemical that can cause kidney failure and death.
In fact, in November 2008, a farm cooperative found melamine levels up to 30 times the maximum level allowed by authorities in 300 tons of organic soy meal imported from China.
As part of our Dirty Little Secrets of Soy series, you’ll learn more about the hazards of eating soy including: how genetically modified soy (80% of all soy produced!) could be affecting your health… the strong hormonal activity of soy which can contribute to weight gain, “man boobs”, and certain cancers… eight good reasons to never let soy formula pass your baby’s lips… and the ways you could be introducing contaminated soy into your body without even knowing it.