What Is Tofu? 8 Reasons to Not Eat This ‘Healthy’ Vegan Product

November 4, 2017
What is tofu? - Dr. Axe

Tofu, also called bean curd, has gained popularity over the years especially as a vegetarian- and vegan-approved source of protein. It seems to have a healthy reputation with consumers, but what is tofu exactly? The truth is tofu is made from soy, and the majority of the time soy is bad for you.

Soy is actually one of the most commonly genetically modified foods in the world, and tofu is made from soybeans, water and a coagulant, or curdling agent. According to Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of “The Whole Soy Story,” soy is not a health food, does not prevent disease and has not even been proven safe. Furthermore, numerous scientific studies link soy to digestive troubles, malnutrition, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, as well as heart disease and cancer. (1)

These are some of the main reasons why soy protein makes my list of the 10 health foods you should never eat. But is all soy bad? The important thing to know is that soy products fall into two groups: fermented or unfermented. Unfermented soy products include tofu, edamame and soy milk, while miso, natto, tempeh and tamari are fermented soy products. All soybeans (even organic, non-GMO ones) naturally contain antinutrients, toxins and plant hormones. However, fermentation is what makes soy products health-promoting. Without fermentation, what is tofu? It’s just a rubbery, white piece of questionable and health-hazardous non-meat protein.

What Is Tofu?

People often wonder what is tofu made of? It makes perfect sense why tofu is often called bean curd since it’s made by curdling soy milk (from soybeans) and then pressing the resulting curds into soft, white blocks. The process of making tofu is relatively similar to the way that cheese is made from milk. Tofu nutrition is impressive, and that’s why many people assume it’s such a great health food. Per serving, it’s low in fat and calories yet high in protein, amino acids, iron and calcium. (2) So what is tofu’s downside? I’ll tell you why gaining these nutrients from eating tofu is not worth the negative repercussions below.

There are actually many different types of tofu, including fresh tofu, soft or silken tofu, firm tofu, extra firm tofu, processed tofu, fermented tofu, dried tofu, fried tofu, and frozen tofu. The healthiest options on this list are the fermented varieties, which include pickled tofu and stinky tofu. Pickled tofu, also known as preserved tofu or fermented tofu, consists of dried tofu cubes that have been allowed to fully air-dry under hay and slowly ferment from aerial bacteria. Stinky tofu is a soft tofu fermented in a vegetable and fish brine. Unfortunately, most of the tofu eaten in the United States is unfermented, and unfermented tofu really shouldn’t be consumed.

8 Reasons to Not Eat Tofu

1. Genetic Modification

In 1994, the first genetically modified soybean was introduced to the U.S. market by Monsanto. While food prices continue to rise around the world, the availability of non-GMO soybeans is decreasing, which is leading more Asian and U.S. food manufacturers in Asia to use genetically modified soybeans to make soy foods like tofu. Today, at least 90 percent all soy grown in the United States is genetically modified. (3) This is such an alarmingly high amount that it’s no wonder it’s so challenging to find soy products that are non-GMO.

Thanks to Monsanto, the leading producer of GMO foods in the U.S., the majority of soy products are made from Monsanto Roundup Ready Soybeans. These soybeans are genetically engineered in such a way that their DNA is changed so the soybean plants can withstand the herbicide glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. First grown commercially in 1996, Roundup Ready Soybeans allow farmers to spray their entire crops with glyphosate to kill the weeds but not damage the soybean crops. (4)

Genetically modified foods are linked to so many health problems because they kill off good bacteria in your gut and also damage the working of your digestive system. In a 2011 review published in Environmental Sciences Europe, 19 studies of mammals, fed GMO soybeans and corn, were evaluated. The 90-day trials indicate liver and kidney problems as a result of consuming GMO foods. Kidneys were specifically affected by 43.5 percent of all disrupted parameters in male subjects while the liver was disrupted by 30.8 percent for the females. (5) It’s actually become harder to find this original study since its publication. I’m sure that’s because it makes people highly concerned about consuming genetically modified foods like tofu.

How scary that eating GMO foods can so directly and majorly impact our vital organs! Even if you buy tofu that is not made from genetically modified soybeans, there is still a variety of other substantial health concerns.

2. Phytoestrogens and Breast Cancer

Tofu contains phytoestrogens — or plant-based estrogens. These compounds have an estrogen-like effect on the body so they block normal estrogen production and have been linked to breast cancer. Some scientific research finds that soy might “feed” certain breast cancers since it can behave just like estrogen. It might depend on how much soy is consumed as well as the overall health of the woman, but if you have breast cancer currently, are a survivor of breast cancer or you have a family history of breast cancer, I would definitely avoid tofu and other unfermented soy products entirely. (6)

3. Thyroid Disruption

Tofu is made from soy, and soy contains goitrogenic compounds, specifically the soy isoflavone genistein. These goitrogens are thyroid hormone blockers that can interfere with thyroid hormone production and specifically cause hypothyroidism.

Many parents think they’re making a healthy choice when they opt for soy formula for their babies. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. A study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood shows how the intake of soy products can negatively affect us starting at a very early age, especially for people born with congenital hypothyroidism. As this 2004 study shows, infants fed soy formula have a prolonged increase of thyroid stimulating hormone compared to infants fed non-soy formula. (7)

An earlier study in 1994 showed similarly concerning results. A patient with congenital hypothyroidism continued to be “persistently hypothyroid” while on a soy formula diet even though the patient was receiving large doses of L-thyroxine (T4). (8) T4 is a standard conventional treatment for hypothyroidism.

4. Antinutrients

Tofu contains phytate, which science has shown contributes to the firm texture of tofu. (9) Phytate is essentially phytic acid bound to a mineral. What’s the problem with phytate? Well, phytate and phytic acid are known antinutrients, and they aren’t the only antinutrients in tofu. Soy products like tofu contain several highly concerning antinutrients, including: (10)

  • Lectins and saponins — linked to leaky gut syndrome as well as other gastrointestinal and immune problems
  • Oligosaccharides — gas-promoting, which is why soy is sometimes called the “king of musical fruits”
  • Oxalates — known to promote kidney stones and vulvodynia
  • Protease inhibitors — interfere with protein digestion and have caused malnutrition, poor growth, digestive distress and pancreatitis
  • Phytates — block mineral absorption, causing zinc, iron and calcium deficiencies

When it comes to tofu, cooking it does not seem to reduce the level of phytates and other antinutrients. What does reduce these antinutrients is fermentation.


Eight reasons to not eat tofu - Dr. Axe


5. Cognitive Problems

Soy tofu has been linked with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, two cognitive health concerns that negatively impact the brain and basic daily functioning. One ongoing study of Japanese Americans residing in Hawaii found a significant statistical relationship between two or more servings of tofu per week and “accelerated brain aging.” Additionally, the study subjects who ate tofu in mid-life had lower cognitive function in the later years of their lives. They also had an increased occurrence of both dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. (11)

According to a study published in Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, eating high amounts tofu was linked to a worse memory while eating high amounts of tempeh was shown to improve memory. The researchers hypothesize that tempeh’s high folate levels have protective and counteractive effects on phytoestrogen content. (12)

6. Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D Deficiencies

Soy contains a B12 analogs, which means that tofu contains compounds that resemble vitamin B12. However, these B12 analogs cannot be used by your body the way it would use real B12. This is why soy foods like tofu can actually contribute to vitamin B12 deficiency, especially among people who avoid animal protein like vegetarians and vegans.

You probably already knew how widespread vitamin D deficiency is in this country, but you probably didn’t know that unfermented soy foods are part of the problem. Soy foods like tofu also increase your body’s vitamin D requirements, which means that eating tofu can make a vitamin D deficiency even worse. (13)

7. Digestive Difficulty

Unfermented soy products like tofu contain strong enzyme inhibitors, which block the action of the pancreatic enzyme trypsin along with other proteolytic enzymes needed for protein digestion. This not only disrupts a healthy digestive process, but can also causes problems with the pancreas.

I’ve written a lot about how crucial digestive enzymes are to our overall health and well being. When it comes to tofu, most people lack the enzymes necessary to digest this unfermented soy food, similarly to how many people are lactose intolerant. This causes indigestion, gas, bloating and a whole slew of gastrointestinal issues.

Many people also have soy sensitivities or even full-blown allergies due not only to the genetic modification of soy, but also due to overexposure since soy is lurking in many more products than we realize.

8. Potential Heart Issues

While tofu is often marketed as a heart-healthy alternative to animal meats, there have been studies that definitely debunk this claim. One such study was done with animal subjects, and the results were highly interesting.

Researchers specifically looked at the effect of a soy-rich diet on hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a condition in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick and makes it hard for the heart to pump blood. The study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that mice fed a soy diet exhibited significantly worse HCM than mice fed a soy-free (milk protein) diet. These study results provide evidence that a soy-rich diet can have a profound negative effect on heart health. (14) 

Better Alternatives to Tofu

If you’re looking for a healthier go-to meatless protein source, here are some great alternatives to tofu:

Natto — Natto is a fermented soy superfood that’s been shown in scientific studies to have great health benefits, including lowering blood pressure. (15) Natto is as an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Additionally, the good bacteria Bacillus subtilis in natto creates an enzyme called nattokinase, which produces vitamin K2.

Tempeh — Tempeh is also made from fermented soybeans. Its fermentation process as well as its use of the whole soybean gives it a higher content of protein, vitamins and minerals. Tempeh is is known to reduce cholesterol, increase bone density, reduce menopausal symptoms and promote muscle recovery. In addition to these amazing benefits, tempeh has the same protein quality as meat and contains high levels of vitamins B5, B6, B3 and B2.

These are both made from soy, yes, but, they’re fermented foods, which is the key differentiator. Next time you come across some tasty-sounding tofu recipes, remember these alternatives that you can substitute for tofu.

Tofu History

Tofu, or “doufu” as the Chinese call it, got its start centuries ago in China. The making of tofu was first recorded during the Han Dynasty (between 206 B.C. and 220 A.D.) about 2,000 years ago. Some say it was discovered by a Chinese cook who accidentally curdled soy milk when he added nigari seaweed. (16)

It took hundreds of years before Japan got in on the action. When the Japanese started making the bean curd, they called it “tofu” as we do in America today. Tofu’s creation and consumption continued to advance throughout Asia over the years. The spread of tofu corresponded with Buddhism’s spread since tofu is a common source of protein in the vegetarian diet of East Asian Buddhism.

Tofu didn’t make its way to the U.S. until 1765 when a man named Samuel Bowen, a well-traveled sailor, settled near Savannah, Ga. and planted soybeans for his employer at the time. A few years later in 1770, Ben Franklin sent soybeans (he called them “Chinese caravances”) back from France to his friend and famous botanist, John Bertram. Franklin wrote in excitement to Bertram about a “special cheese” made from the beans “which is called Tau Fu.” (17)

The soybean became a commercial crop in the United States in the 1920s, but back then soy wasn’t for eating. It was used as hay and sometimes green manure. Consumption of soybean products began in this country during World War II. This was when the soybean crop replaced imported fats and oils that were being blocked by disrupted trade routes due to the war.

In the 1960s, soybean production was booming in the U.S., which was producing 75 percent of the world’s supply at that point. Medical studies began around this time too, and they continue to this day. (18) Many studies talk about positive health benefits of eating soy foods, but you have to keep in mind that soybeans make a lot of money for a lot of people. From 1996 to 2013, annual soy food sales in the U.S.increased from $1 billion to $4.5 billion. (19)


Best tofu alternatives - Dr. Axe


Final Thoughts on Tofu

Traditional Asian diets rich in fermented soy products definitely have their health benefits. Unfortunately, the majority of the time that we eat soy in this country, it’s the unfermented variety like tofu, and it’s in too large of a quantity. What is tofu? It’s typically an unfermented soy product that’s genetically modified, offsetting the potential health benefits.

I strongly recommend avoiding unfermented soy products like tofu for the sake of your health. Fermented soy products like natto have been shown to have positive health effects like lowering blood pressure, but unfermented soy like tofu has been linked to digestive troubles, malnutrition, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, as well as heart disease and cancer.

Even though experts might keep claiming tofu is a healthy alternative to meat, I really hope you’ll think twice next time you’re choosing your vegetarian protein — and if it’s going to be soy, make sure it’s fermented.

Read Next: 10 Health Foods You Should Never Eat

Josh Axe

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  1. Stephen Werner on

    “In a 2011 review published in Environmental Sciences Europe, 19 studies of mammals, fed GMO soybeans and corn, were evaluated.”


    I think something (important) was accidentally edited out?

  2. Megan on

    Please check out nutritionfacts.org and read up on how soy actually reduces the risk for breast cancer by as much as 30%. Most gmo soy is fed to livestock. Eat organic.

    • Georgie Song on

      Your comment on soy is more correct. Soy is one of the best plant protein source, a legume, with all 22 amino acids. Has Genistein, to protect against breast cancer. One thing wrong with soy tofu is that the soluble fiber been processed out. Also when it comes to soy being GMO that a man-made perversion, not NATURE’S. Yes, buy organic.

  3. Malcolm Daley on

    Sounds like you are trying to be controversial to gain publicity. Your article is presented as being factual yet many of your claims have no reference to their source so cannot be checked. Overall a wholly unbalanced publication.

  4. mary on

    how is it that chinese and japanese have been eating tofu for centuries and they are healthier than westerners. ? an honest question and would like to have an honest answer.
    thanks so much!

    • Kite on

      You’d think if the humble soy bean was somehow THAT BAD, people in countries where it’s eaten the most (and it’s the most eaten legume in the world) would have noticed by now, or at least everyone else would have. But it’s easy in the West to dismiss a “foreign” food without reference to the health of the non-Western cultures that consume it (sorry, one reference to Americans not persuasive enough). Did you know that seaweed consumed regularly can give people an overdose of iodine – unless consumed with soy products – which the Japanese do?

    • Leslie on

      They eat fermented tofu! Only the desperately impoverished farmers traditionally ate a lot of unfermented soy as they couldnt afford meat.

      • Hyona on

        Fermented tofu? I don’t think i’ve ever had that and i’m korean/japanese maybe that’s a chinese thing. I’ve eaten plenty of tofu that is unfermented though. Tofu soup mostly silken tofu, fried tofu with kimchi, steamed tofu with rice, you name it.

    • Silvia on

      The article explains why:
      “Traditional Asian diets rich in fermented soy products definitely have their health benefits. Unfortunately, the majority of the time that we eat soy in this country, it’s the unfermented variety like tofu”

  5. Stephanie on

    And all your credibility just went out the window. Very biased article contending with way too much plant based research that clearly supports the many benefits of soy. Why do you feel the need to create more confusion about a simple bean? This pushes people toward more toxic foods because of an unnecessary soy phobia. The only thing anyone can agree on here is to avoid non-organic and gmo beans. Just stick to the oils, doc. Leave the plant based nutrition to the real experts. Docs McGreger, Esselstyn, Campbell, Barnard, McDougall….

      • Stan on

        No. The science is not well supported. You need to eat 21 portions of soy a day, every day, to get any negatives. That science is well proven. A few pieces of research denouncing tofu does not equate to the hundreds that show no issues.

  6. Hansen on

    This article impressed me as a hit job, sponsored by the meat and dairy industry. I’ve been a vegan/vegetarian for ~50 years, live in Asia and frequently eat tofu in various forms.

    Not surprised to learn that you are a chiropractor. You guys should stick to doing adjustments but since you don’t do much of a job at that, it’s no wonder you chat about things you don’t really understand. Pathetic. You are no physician.

    • Kite on

      Hit job, or just courting controversy to inspire fear and gain attention. Many with health issues (from cancer to chronic fatigue) who haven’t been well served so far by conventional wisdom & medicine are especially receptive to iconoclasm, and unfortunately it can be hard to sort out the quacks. Plus there’s always types who are neurotic about their health and diet (never mind that stress is often worse) and fear works well on them. Thank goodness for people in these comments who have done the scientific groundwork to dispute these cherrypicking claims.

      • Kite on

        Plus – I’ve had little patience for the pseudoscience often accompanying chiropractors, and with a lifelong back condition, I’ve tried many of them, and always found they ended up doing the same back cracking routine for about 10-15 minutes which only gained me some relief and looseness the first time round, and diminishing returns and a growing gritty pain in the spine (low on cartilage) after that. Osteopaths and physiotherapists never try to push additional pseudoscientific concepts onto me (I’m open minded but c’mon, homeopathy???) and spend far longer, trying different techniques, and give me far more relief. Everyone’s YMMV may vary, but I’ve certainly not been impressed every time I’ve gone (sometimes in a small town or foreign city chiropractors are the only back practitioners around if you don’t count massage).

      • Leslie on

        The science was in the article. You should tey actually reading past the first tqo sentences. Tofu and soy milk are not fermented.

      • April S on

        Instead of assassinating the guy’s character and assuming he has no knowledge on nutrition, you probably should have conducted your research, because it would have shown you that he has the highest nutrition certification there is. If you don’t agree with chiropractic care and its benefits or the studies he sited on the dangers of soy, why even comment? You can respectfully disagree and prove him wrong by citing unbiased studies-those not financed by the soy industry-proving the benefits of soy.

  7. Ko on

    I guess Dr. Axe is unfamiliar with non-GMO dòufu and chòudòfu (fermented).

    Most dòufu eaten in Asia in non-GMO (as is our soy milk) and a significant amount is organic and locally produced since we prefer it as fresh as possible.

    Others have noted the specious claims, I won’t go further.

    • Rationalist on

      No worries folks. We have GMO’d everything we eat anyway over the course of millennia of plant and animal selection and cross breeding. If you want untainted food you’ll have to claw it out of the jungle by hand.
      Our human ancestors likely ate mostly fruit and meat, not beans or grains (incidentally many beans are poisonous) so that should be the clue to what our digestion is geared for.

      • Robert on

        Our ancestors ate roots and leaves (vegetables), berries, nuts, fruits, mushrooms, and small amounts of meat. Basically, the same as monkeys today. I have no problem with a plate that is 25% meat and 75% vegetables. I prefer 15% meat or tofu and 85% vegetables. My only concern is many people eat 75% meat, 20% friedrubbish, and 5% vegetables.

  8. Rachel on

    Ok, so if I eat fermented soy I have eliminated the problem of the anti nutrients in soy. But what about all the other negatives listed here?
    Also, do you know of a tempeh product out there that is grain and rice free?

    • Terry on

      I buy Green Cuisine. The ingredients are organic soybeans, water, culture, herbs, spices and salt. It’s easy to find in most grocery stores. Unless you have allergies, I see no negatives at all.

  9. Benjamin Carson on

    The most consecutive half-truths and full-lies I’ve seen in one article outside of CNN lol. Thanks for spreading misinformation doc. Why do you call yourself a Doctor? You hardly even qualify as an internet blogger.. people like you disgust me.

    • April S on

      He has the highest nutrition certification offered. You should have probably looked into that before you assassinated his character for simply not agreeing with him. Disagree kindly and site your studies or you are doing the same thing you accuse him of.

  10. Roberta Shaffer on

    I have just read your article. My jaw is still on the floor. I am absolutely horrified to know that all the tofu I eat is possibily wrecking havoc in my body. I had absolutely no idea what garbage I have been ingesting for the last 5 years since I have become vegan. The words, “Thank You” do not come close to expressing my gratitude to you for writing this article. This is proof how corrupt governments are and how they can manipulate the minds of millions.
    I truly am grateful to you……

    • Roberta Shaffer on

      I have just read your article. My jaw is still on the floor. I am absolutely horrified to know that all the tofu I eat is possibily wrecking havoc in my body. I had absolutely no idea what garbage I have been ingesting for the last 5 years since I have become vegan. The words, “Thank You” do not come close to expressing my gratitude to you for writing this article. This is proof how corrupt governments are and how they can manipulate the minds of millions.
      I truly am grateful to you……

    • Hsina Harry on

      I thought the same when I first read it, but then you read all the comments back to him by from I think are educated people, its so confusing. my diet is mainly plant based but thought I would try tofu , was looking at different marinades etc then this popped up . Sometimes you just get fed up , you do a bit of research think your sorted then you come across something else that makes you have to do more research just to eat safely…oh well back to square one .

      • Robert on

        Read a book called the China Study. Incredibly researched and really explains why animal protein is such a problem. Dr. Axe is not a nutritionist. His view here is very much in the minority.

      • Vivek on

        Robert, if “very much in the minority” views are grounds for dismissal, what does that say about vegan views?

  11. Roberta Shaffer on

    Just as I was about to post this article on Facebook & call about 10 people, I read the comments from the other readers & I realize I have A LOT of research to do. Guess I got sucked in too easily. Thanks Guys

    • Leslie on

      The science is basically sound. There are shills posting here from the cancer and soy industry. Stick with organic tempeh and avoid unfermented soy

      • Harvey on

        I think everybody agrees that unfermented soy is better than tofu. The issue I have is that eating a couple of servings of tofu a day has been shown to cause no health issues. This article is attempting to scare people and nothing more.

  12. Chris on

    total nonsense. no facts other than quoting other ” doctors’ but you don’t quote verified Health publications which say the opposite.

  13. Tammy M. on

    I have to say, some of these comments can get quite nasty. Disagreeing vigorously is one thing, taking jabs & speaking with contempt quite another. If people disagree, please have the decency not to attack the person. I don’t know about tofu, but the tone of many of the comments doesn’t help the opposing argument. Please consider approaching with a little more respect. We could use more of that in our world.

    • Robert on

      It is because the claims he has made are a repetition of a small minority of research that has been sponsored by the meat industry. If he had of given a balanced view and suggested that maybe more research is needed or something, he would have had a better reception. This article, however, is just so poorly written and researched.

    • l. on

      Yes. We are guests on Dr. Axe’s Comment Board. It’s so easy to get outraged and p.o.’d and lose sight of that fact. I relate. I love Truth with a capital T. But take note he has not obliterated your negative posts, which he could do if he so chose. What does that say to you? (Something negative no doubt, LOL :) I intend to eat tofu (organic). But I believe he is sincere, if perhaps alarmist in his opinion – and not paying attention to culinary tradition and history. But this space for disagreement and information-sharing, i.e. comment board, is provided by Dr. Axe and his commercial pursuits. He could be selling antibiotics, vaccines, and other loverly crrp. You don’t have to buy anything to post, read, and learn stuff here. Clue in, my fellow detractors! I thank-you, Dr. Axe, even though I disagree with your anti-tofu :( stance!

  14. Paul smith on

    In your closing comments…you wrote
    Tofu is linked to…heart disease and cancer…maybe consider what you just wrote there

    Smoking is linked to heart disease and cancer – scientifically beyond doubt

    Give people keen to live a healthier lifestyle a break dude, and please, do some research and validate what you say and what you mean

    Doctor? My ass!!!!

  15. Bulls Eye on

    Thanks for the article, please ignore all the comments critiquing it below. It is after all human nature, as soon as a food they adore is attacked, they are quick to defend it. Especially ‘foreign’ foods, whether it is Butter Chicken, or Sushi, or Tofu, or anything that is the latest trendiest one as per the latest ‘yoga’ guy.

    Thanks again.

    • Bulls Eye on

      Quick fyi, this same trend of these folks can be seen in other things as well it is part of man’s immoral nature.

      If an animal is killed, they are quick to protest, but everyday newborn babes are being dismembered and murdered, but they are silent or even in support of it.

      If a person is pure, they are quick to mock, but if a person has slept around, it is considered a norm today.

      If anyone goes against the trend of being ‘vegetarian’, they are quick to scoff, but if anyone comments over the benefits of meat, then they must paid by a meat-selling org, etc.

      Quite common to see these trends today.

      • Robert on

        I think you will find that nobody is saying that a small amount of meat is going to kill you. But the majority of research that has been done independently has shown that a diet made up mostly of non-meat products is better for your long term health. That is not attacking anyone. Tofu (from many independent studies) has been shown to be a healthier meat alternative.

      • Robert on

        And, actually, the article does not say that meat is good for you. He recommends some other types of not meat products. I don’t think you read past the heading :)

    • Pip on


      Ask the Japanese if tofu or soy products are the latest trend ?

      The only “latest trend” here is “blogging” where any Tom. Dick or Harry is allowed an unchecked platform to promote whatever agenda they wish.

      Those commenting are simply providing the necessary editorial oversight

  16. Autoya on

    I am not an expert but when I researched last, US has the worst of most of these conditions including cancers, thyroid etc. People’s diet has a lot to do with this.

  17. Kaitlyn on

    naomi – I think you hit the nail on the head. The article is transparent on how it is slanted. The logic isn’t logical. To suggest that everyone avoid soy because a few might be sensitive is silly. To state it should be avoided because it isn’t nutritional complete would have us toss out all fruits and veggies because they contain only 8 of this and not 9 of that. How much is enough? And I love the assertion that (real) food can cause malnutrition. Huh?

  18. Robert on

    All three human studies on soy and breast cancer survival suggest that soy in sufficient amounts may improve survival in women diagnosed with breast cancer.

    Sorry, this article is wrong in so many ways.

  19. Shawn on

    What? Asians eat TONS of unfermented soy products! And tofu is a healthy alternative to meat. In fact, meat is SHOWN to be far more hazardous to your health than tofu. It’s one reason the WHO lists processed meats – not tofu – on its list of carcinogenic “foods.” Meat production itself is KNOWN to be hazardous to individual health, environmental health, and a civil rights issue, and more. Recommending meat consumption and avoiding tofu seems incredibly ill informed.

  20. Pip on

    I would say it has more to do with FDA approval of ALL/ANY GMO food rather than Soy. Care to comment on GMO high fructose corn syrup too?

    Also interesting that the Japanese diet (which include many forms of soy product in place of red meats) provide Japan with the lowest obesity rates, highest number of Centenarians of any country (not just per capita, but total number too) very low rates of cardiovascular disease and lower cancer rates.

    There far more things going to give women breast cancer from the typical US diet way before soy.

    • David on

      I too was sceptical about the info in this article and the lack of reference to actual existing studies on the product. Sounded like mostly unsubstantiated negative hype. And I also wondered about all the millions of people who do consume tofu every year. I never hear about death tolls and cancer connections.
      I personally do not consume tofu on a regular basis but when I do choose to add it to a dish, I probably won’t worry too much!

  21. Tina Chiu on

    This article is targeting unfairly soy. For those who are not intolerant of soy, soy is fine. Asian culture uses tofu, edamame, soy sauce, and soy milk. Like any food, it shouldn’t be the only thing you eat. A variety diet is the most healthy diet with the avoidance of over processed foods, bleached foods, high amounts of sugar and salt, and extreme limit of hard to digest foods, such as meat, dairy, and corn.

    Back to Asian culture. They consume soy products and have very little health problems, including those mentioned in this article. Where this article hits the nail on the head, is that soy in countries (USA) with over processed foods make things like soy unhealthy. I lived in Taiwan for over a year. It doesn’t use GMOs like the US. They protect and care for their soil. They use as little pesticides as possible and fertilize far more naturally. They don’t even wax their fruit. They put bags over then to protect fragile skin. The only danger to their crops is typhoons.

    The problem with soy is the same problem with any food in the US. We must buy organic, non-GMO, no additives, no preservatives, and unprocessed or hardly processed food in order to avoid our healthy foods being made unhealthy. Unfortunately, we have to trust the integrity of companies to not lie on their labeling.

    Soy is not the problem. What is done to it is the problem. This can be said for ALL foods. If you find a truly good soy product (I recommend local Asian markets), then by all means, it is a great food whether you are vegan or vegetarian or a meat eater.

  22. Izzy Jacobus on

    You should be embarrassed for writing this collection of misinformation and unfounded claims. Try writing about things that you actually have some knowledge about. This article is pathetic.

  23. Amy on

    As a Biochemistry student, I simply stopped reading when you flat out said that soy contains plant-based estrogens. Estrogen is a mammalian hormone and this is probably the biggest misconception about soy. Yes, it contains compounds that are similar to estrogen, but they are not estrogen compounds. There is no such thing as “plant-based estrogen”. That statement completely disqualified the entire article. Pathetic.

    • Chris Gadbury on

      Phytoestrogens are plant based estrogens and are quite real Mr “biochemist student”. I hope you study for your next exam more than the amount of thought you placed in this comment.

  24. johan beddes on

    Very not good paper! You don’t know the soybean and you don’t say the verity… Stupid paper… Very stupid paper, so, you don’t help the planet and the human!

  25. Knight on

    And tofu started World War 2 and was responsible for the assasination of JFK and if you look into historical data you can trace it to the Black Plague in Europe in the Middle Ages…not rats. Sounds unlikely but just as likely as the other facts in the article…sponsored by whome I wonder?

  26. Chris on

    This is an extraordinary piece of misinformation… and even if it were true, 96% of soy is eaten by livestock, so all these supposed negative effects will be passed directly on to people through meat.

    Won’t be coming on this website ever again

    • Terry on

      I think you should believe those of Asian descent, such as yourself, whose diet consists of daily soy products and remain much healthier than those in the US. Dr. Axe is speaking about things he knows nothing about.

  27. ANGELA on

    I read some years ago that soy absorbs aluminium from the soil. Is this true. If yes I’m going to avoid it like the plague.

  28. YL on

    LOL, I love soy products from soy milk, soft tofu, fried tofu, bean curd, bean curd stick, to fermented bean curd. I have had them since my childhood and I am middle age now. I think every Asian eat soy product and we live our lives just like everybody else who don’t eat soy products. Not a problem at all.

  29. Terry on

    This is clearly not your area of expertise. There is so much nonsense here, it’s hard to know where to focus. I’m happy to see that there are a lot of informed people not being taken in by it.

    However, it’s still disturbing to know that you are misleading many others. May I suggest that you do a little research before posting false claims and presenting them as facts. There are many experts who can fill you in.

    At the very least, take a quick trip through any grocery store to see that organically grown, non-gmo soy products are, rather than being challenging to find, easily available.

    If you read the comments, you should now be aware of your errors. Out of respect to your readers, I hope you have the ethical standards to do the research and edit your article to convey the truth.

  30. Marty on

    I am curious (and a lot of articles regarding tofu do this) why the mention is always of non-organic tofu. Can you comment on the health benefits (or risks) of organic (non GMO) sprouted tofu? And also on organic (non GMO) whole soybeans (edamame). In addition, in regards to the estrogen-like effects, what about the health benefits of these organic options for women who are post menopausal and have diminished natural estrogen production, if any at all? I consider myself well educated in nutrition by passion and the medical training I have as a PT, but even with all the self-studying, I am continually confused by the soy topic. I also feel frustrated that when isolated food(s) are discussed, it’s almost always about non organic and/or GMO, with little or no mention for the people who are already avoid these things and choosing the organic versions…… Please help to clarify on the soy! Thanks!

    • adam on

      hi dr Im doing an essay r. seach about non organic and gmo food such as bean curd tofu. I wonder if it can cause breast cancer for women. thx

  31. Pawel on

    The society that has eaten the greatest amounts of tofu ever are the Okinawans. And they used to be some of the healthiest people on earth (until their diet got westernized).

  32. Jon on

    What the hell am I supposed to eat now? I can’t eat grains, can’t eat meat, I can’t eat to many carbs and now I can’t eat soy products? Should i just chew on a fckn lettuce then?

  33. Emma Stone on

    This has all a bunch of lies. Eat organic tofu. The rest is bunk. Tofu is super good for you. Asians have been eating it for thousands of years, and no breast or other cancer. USA, meat and dairy and sugar loving, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, auto immune disease etc….

  34. Mary on

    Obviously, this dr doesn’t know about or care to concern himself with the latest research and history. Soy is a SUPERFOOD if it is ORGANIC. More fake ‘research’ by the Big Pharma, Meat and Dairy industry are displayed here. Try this: Go to Dr. Greger’s website at nutritionfacts.org
    Look under the Soy category.
    learn some things.
    Live well.

  35. Aly on

    Thsee negative facts have already been debunked. Worry about estrogen? Then you should think about ten REAL estrogen in animal products especially ones from the reproductive system (eggs and milk). If you want some real facts on food from a real doctor go to nutritionfacts.org 👊

  36. Genevieve O'Gorman on

    I would like to point out that all foods consumed in the United States today are genetically modified. As it turns out humans have been altering plants and animals for thousands of years. The grass that we cultivated over thousands of years to produce bigger and better ears of corn is one example. We have selectively bred chickens to produce up to 300 eggs a year through genetic manipulation for the past 5,000 years of domestication while their wild ancestors laid about 12 eggs a year and hatched them out as their young. Albeit, crops modified by Monsanto are far more sinister due the fact that it promotes monocropping, dumping vast amounts of toxins like Roundup into our earth, and makes it nearly impossible for our farmers to grow anything but Monsanto seeds and make a profit. I would like to note that 99% of mothers milk in this country contains high amounts of Roundup. All plants and animals we consume as Americans have been genetically modified in the deep past for producing larger and better harvests. All of the food we eat today in America has been genetically modified by large corporations to turn a profit. It is not acceptable to say that soybeans are genetically modified and conveniently keep quiet that all our other crops are also genetically modified.

  37. Arvin Aquio on

    Tofu is an unhealthy food but most centenarian(Okinawan) diet from japan(blue zone) consists of soy, especially tofu. Another confusing here is that, you stated from the upper part of the writings that soy is genetically modified(at least 90% as you mentioned) where tofu is made of but in the bottom, you recommend other foods that still made from soy(only fermented) and labeled as “healthy alternative”? watdaheck! you are a man of confusion!

  38. Alex on

    If you bothered to read the paper, you would have come across this statement in the abstract…

    “The 90-day-long tests are insufficient to evaluate chronic toxicity, and the signs highlighted in the kidneys and livers could be the onset of chronic diseases”

    The author of this website is a piece of shit. He/she will try to spin anything to push an agenda.

  39. Aly on

    These “negative” aspects of soy have all been debunked. Most gmo/ pesticide soy is fed to livestock. Soy is actually VERY healthy for you in moderate amounts. follow Dr. Gregor’s http://www.nutritionfacts.org for an actual un-biased peer reviewed studies and information regarding food. He has spent his entire life uncovering the science of a plant-based diet.

  40. Goomantoong on

    It sounds and reads like a paid for promotional, propoganda scare article. Fresh out of the vaults of the unscruplous, dirty dairy and meat industry.


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