Soy is a bean. It is a vegan source of protein, fiber, with low carbohydrates. Sold as beans, soy seems like a perfect food that also adds no cholesterol and healthy body fats. Marketers, however, extend soy into milks, oils, and pastes (todu, veggie patties, tempeh) as a means of integrating soy products as a major part of healthy meals. How do they do this? Is it healthy?
The problem comes in when Hexane is used to help convert the bean into one of those food products. Hexane is naturally found in fruits, vegetables, and some seafood. Hexane is found in citrus. Hexane is an extraction solvent used in food production Present in volatile fractions of various plant species e. g. apples, orange juice, guava fruit, roasted filberts, porcini (Boletus edulis), shiitake (Lentinus edodes), heated sweet potato and sage. Also present in scallops Hexane has been shown to exhibit hepatoprotective, antibiotic, anti-nociceptive, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial functions.
Of course hexane isn’t necessarily extracted from those sources. It is manufactured. Hexane is a highly volatile aliphatac hydrocarbon. It is a commercial and industrial product that contains a mixture of hydrocarbons with six carbon atoms. It is likely that hexanes are used in the bulk processing of many soy products we hold dear.
Soy is the main protein source among vegans and those trying to lower LDL cholesterol naturally. Can dietary soy also be bad for you?
What makes a good thing like soy possibly toxic? Hexane is a byproduct of gasoline refining. It is a neurotoxin and a hazardous air pollutant. Soybean processors use it as a solvent — a cheap and efficient way of extracting oil from soybeans, a necessary step to making most conventional soy oil and protein ingredients.
Yet….there are soy beans and genetically modified soybeans, One of the miniscule components in soy is phytoestrogen that mimics a hormone that might add feminine characteristics to men and possible breast cancer and heart problems in women. These results are studied but research remains inconclusive. Many foods are packed with phytonutrients that may also include phytohormones and some valuable nutrients like Lutein and other phytonutrients.
Vegans aside, I believe that various sources of protein – from soy, beans, wheat gluten, fish and meats – are healthier. The goal is to moderate on each source.
Consequently, natural soy is a rich vegan source of lecithin that delivers many benefits that are believed to protect the heart, liver, and other parts of the body.
Should hexane in soy isolates be harmful to your health? Not really. As long as you stick to recommended servings of these soy food products, your liver filters out the hexane. Hexane has been shown to be associated with nervous conditions in shoe manufacturing, where there is high exposure to Hexane solvents. Also, many warnings against feeding babies soy milk are required on soy packaging. Adults should monitor their own intake of processed soy products.
Soy beans and minimally processed soy products offer health benefits as a vegetarian, no cholesterol protein. Soy beans are also natural derivatives of lecithin. While soy burgers are good sources of protein, the processing to make them delicious uses a toxic solvent called Hexane. The quantity of hexane in each soy burger is extremely tiny. If you eat a serving or two with a meal two or three times a week, studies show that there will be no negative effects of hexane because your liver filters hexane, as it would many other of the potential toxins you eat and drink daily.
Yet, dietary, chronic soy dependency may yield higher doses of hexane Chronic exposure can cause damage to the nervous system. If swallowed, it may cause abdominal pain and impact the respiratory system, resulting in shortness of breath.
Diversify your protein sources and try to stay away from processed foods. Just because that soy patty tastes like chicken or steak may not mean it’s healthier than eating small servings of fish, chicken, and meat. Soy burgers, in moderation, may not harm or compromise its perceived health benefits.
Of course, soy is a high value market with millions of fans. There are many studies that will say that soy dependence is healthy and has no harmful issues.