We'll make this the final installment of our discussion of soy vs. the soyafoes. They correctly point out that soy cannot be relied upon as a source of Vitamin B12, but that is true of every plant food. Not just every bean, but every nut, seed, grain, vegetable, and fruit. The fact is that Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that is best obtained from supplements- and that's true even if you do eat meat. Even meat and other animal foods can have false Vitamin B12 analoges- sometimes in large amounts. Plus, Vitamin B12 has got major absorption issues which only worsen with age because of stomach atrophy, lack of hydrochloric acid, and more. Vitamin B12 was discovered in relation to pernicious anemia among patients who were not vegetarians. So, anyone can develop a Vitamin B12 deficiency, and the best insurance against it is to take a good Vitamin B12 supplement, such as methylcobalamin. But, there is no reason to beat up soy over it.
As I've said, I don't eat that much soy. I use the tofu from sprouted soybeans to make my fruit shakes. I don't use soy milk because I make nut milk using almonds, pecans, and walnuts. It's fast, easy, and very delicious. I don't use any of the fake meats made from soy because I'm not interested in eating fake meats. There is an acclaimed vegetarian restaurant in Austin called Mother's which offers fabulous tempeh enchiladas, which I always order when I go there. But, that's all I can think of regarding my soy consumption. I take no soy supplements. I'm not being paid by the United Soybean Board, and I don't own stock in Archer Daniel Midland. And I'll admit that you don't have to eat soy at all to be well nourished. If you never ate it once your life, you could still live, thrive, and survive. However, if you are going to take their diatribe against soy to heart and apply it to all beans and legumes, that would be a real shame. Then, you would be denying yourself a valuable nutritional resource and for no good reason. Beans belong in a healthy diet, and I'm hardly alone in thinking so. Plenty of doctors agree, and I'd like to bring up one in particular, Dr. Joel Fuhrman.
Dr. Fuhrman is a medical doctor and a leading alternative/complementary physician in the New York/New Jersey area. He's written several highly acclaimed books; he is often interviewed on the radio; and he is a consultant to many organizations, including both consumer groups and doctor groups. Dr. Fuhrman believes in the value of beans and legumes. He takes on severe cases of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, and I've seen that beans and legumes figure prominently in the therapeutic diets that he prescribes. Why is that? First, when it comes to "phytonutrients," beans are unsurpassed. Phytonutrients refers to a myriad of plant compounds that include antioxidants, polyphenols, flavinoids, and more. The only food class that rivals beans for the top spot in phytonutrients are berries, and I see that Dr. Fuhrman also pushes berries.
Did you know that the highest source of antioxidants in the average American diet is coffee? How could that be? It is because coffee is a bean. And you've probably heard that chocolate is being praised for being extraordinarily high in antioxidants with significant cardio-protective effects. How could that be? It is because cocoa is a bean. Beans are not only non-atherogenic, they are anti-atherogenic. The phytonutrients in beans serve to prevent and dissolve arterial plaques.
And in regard to diabetes, beans have a stellar effect. Although they are high in carbohydrates, beans have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar. By switching patients from animal products to vegetables and beans, Dr. Fuhrman is often able to get type 2 diabetics off medication. The same is true for hypertensives.
And as for obesity, forget about it. Beans are slenderizing. Dr. Fuhrman puts obese patients on his bean/vegetable/berry diet, and their body fat falls off about as quickly as if they they were fasting.
And, we've seen many cases like this. I remember during the Whitewater scandal during the Clinton years that Susan McDougall got jailed for refusing to cooperate with the Special Prosecutor. She spent several months in prison. And when she got out, weighing 35 pounds less, she told reporters that, while incarcerated, she lived on vegetables and beans. And she looked good too.
Beans are high in protein- the highest of any plant food. And the quality of bean protein is such that pea protein is now being offered as a protein supplement for bodybuilders. Beans are high in minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron, and more, and notwithstanding their phytic acid content, beans support good mineral status. It's been shown repeatedly that bean-eating populations have healthier bones and teeth than dairy-eating populations. My dentist tells me that my teeth are doing great, and I avoid dairy completely and eat beans.
The fiber in beans is soluble fiber, similar to the pectin in fruits, and it is considered to be athero-protective. It has been shown to have a very favorable effect on blood lipids.
The carotenoids in the outer skins of beans are very beneficial, and that's why richly colored beans are superior to white beans- not that there is anything wrong with eating white beans. But yes, if you have a choice between red kidney beans or white kidney beans, you're better off having the red ones. By the way, a very wonderful and delicious bean is the anasazi, which was named after the Anasazi people of the American Southwest. The anasazi bean is mutli-colored with a purple cast, and when cooked it has a creamy texture and a mild, sweet flavor. And they cook pretty fast too. Unfortunately, they are not widely available, but you can find them, including online.
The bottom line is that beans belong in a healthy diet, and there is a very wide and broad concensus about that- in Mainstream Medicine, in Alternative Medicine, and in organizations of dieticians and nutritionists spanning the globe. So, I say, don't let a handful of individuals with a radical agenda and a lot of internet savvy sway you. Eat your beans! I do, and I do so often.