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Soy Isolate Done Right Part 1: Processing Makes All The Difference

Information about soy protein is all over the internet. However, much of the news out there about soy is often misunderstood.  This series is my best attempt to sift out the fact from the fiction. I will gladly update this series as I learn new information.  

Soy foods today come in numerous forms, and I could do a whole blog series on each one. For this series, I chose to focus on one of the most concentrated forms of protein and one that is most popularly used as a supplement to a healthy diet–the soy isolate protein.

What Is Soy Isolate Protein?


Soy bean and soy isolate drinkSoy isolate is a powdered form of soy where the protein is separated out to produce a more concentrated source of protein.  This is the form of protein that is often found in manufactured food products and protein shakes.

Soy protein isolate is easily digestible, high in protein and contains no cholesterol and little to no saturated fat.1  These qualities make it a highly desirable form of soy and a healthy alternative to animal protein.

Why Does The Processing Method Matter?

However from a health standpoint, not all soy isolate powders are completely beneficial or safe. When choosing a soy protein powder, you need to be sure that you’re getting all the nutrition without any negative side effects.

Check out what Soyfoods.org says about the health benefits and processing. They state that, “The content of bio-active components in soy protein isolate varies from product to product depending on how the soy protein is processed.”2

Soy Foods Processing quoteThese “bio-active components” are the various nutrients that we want from the soybean. We don’t want to lose any of these due to careless manufacturing.

Poorly processed soy can also have negative side effects.  These include free radical damage and toxic effects.  If the soy protein molecules are damaged during processing, dangerous free radicals can enter the digestive system.  If we can reduce this free radical damage for ourself and our kids, then that’s always a good thing.  Our body systems can work more efficiently.

Poor processing can also introduce unwanted toxins into our systems.  The FDA states that certain toxins in raw legumes (the soybean included) need to be removed through careful processing.

“Although there are numerous examples of so-called toxic constituents in legumes, they nevertheless have provided a valuable source of protein to man over the centuries. This can be attributed, in part, to the fact that man has learned how to detoxify them by suitable preparative measures…. There is the ever present possibility that the prolonged consumption of a particular legume that may be improperly processed could bring to the surface toxic effects that otherwise would not be apparent.” ~ FDA 3

The Bottom Line: The health benefits of soy isolate can differ from product to product. Manufacturing matters.

What’s A Parent To Do?

You, as the consumer, need to know what you’re eating.  If you are choosing to supplement with a soy isolate protein for it’s proven health benefits, then you need to know how it’s grown and processed.  The next several posts in my series are going to discuss these different methods of growth and processing.  Learn what these are so that you can choose a safe and healthy product.

Show 3 footnotes

  1.  http://www.soyfoods.org/soy-products/soy-fact-sheets/soy-protein-isolate-fact-sheet
  2. http://www.soyfoods.org/soy-products/soy-fact-sheets/soy-protein-isolate-fact-sheet
  3. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/Plantox/Detail.CFM?ID=16162


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