Why do many processed foods contain soy?

Margaret Floyd
Nutrition & Dietetics
In our diet, soy appears most often broken down into isolated components: soybean oil, soy protein isolates, soy isoflavones, and soy lecithin are just some examples. You may think you don't eat a diet heavy in soy, especially if you're not a vegetarian. But once you start looking under the surface, soy is hiding in many processed foods and in places you'd find highly unlikely. You'll find soy in meats (yes, meats -- as a filler), salad dressings, low-carb versions of high-carb foods, cereals, and many other processed foods.

The reason for this is that soy is an extremely cheap and abundant source of protein. Second only to corn, soy is one of the largest crops produced by the United States. In the 1950s, the food industry had a waste problem on their hands: Soy oil was used extensively in processed foods, which left the remaining components of the soybean, namely the protein, as waste. Waste wasn't an attractive option, so food processors began to aggressively market soy protein as a healthy, vegetarian substitute for meat and dairy to the health conscious.
Eat Naked: Unprocessed, Unpolluted, and Undressed Eating for a Healthier, Sexier You

More About this Book

Eat Naked: Unprocessed, Unpolluted, and Undressed Eating for a Healthier, Sexier You

Eat Naked with Margaret Floyd for a Sexier You Are you fed up with counting calories? Confused by all the diet hype? Want to eat delicious, real food and look and feel great? Leading...

Continue Learning about Soy

Is soy safe?
Toby SmithsonToby Smithson
Soy is considered a safe food and has been consumed for centuries by people in Asia as well as by ve...
More Answers
Can soy supplements help treat menopausal symptoms?
Stacy Wiegman, PharmDStacy Wiegman, PharmD
The impact of soy supplements on menopausal symptoms is still a matter of debate. Although there...
More Answers
Why is soy hard to digest?
Margaret FloydMargaret Floyd
Soy is one of the most difficult legumes to digest, as it has powerful enzyme inhibitors. Enzyme...
More Answers
Can Eating Soy Raise My Risk of Breast Cancer?
Can Eating Soy Raise My Risk of Breast Cancer?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.