How To Tell Which Soy Products Contain Neurotoxins

I’ve raised questions before about the use of hexane in soy products.

Many vegetable oils, unlike olive oil, cannot be produced simply by mechanical means (crushing, centrifuging, filtering).  So they instead use high heat and chemicals.

The primary chemical they use is called hexane.  And it’s a neuro-toxin.

Writing about soybean oil in the past, I’ve had trouble discerning when hexane is used and when it’s not.  Because government regulation of hexane use, testing and disclosure is weak in the U.S., it’s tough to find reliable information on which products contain it.

Evidently, it’s not only found in soybean oil.

The Cornucopia Institute released a report late last year identifying soy products that contain hexane, and those that don’t.  Organic products cannot contain hexane, though products that are 70% organic may contain hexane in the 30% that’s not organic.  (Cornucopia lists Clif bars as one such product.)  This is encouraging for me because I often drink Whole Foods’ soy milk (which I’ve also raised questions about in the past) and worry when I hear scary things about soy products.  But my Whole Foods soy milk is at least 95% organic, and there don’t appear to be any soy-derived ingredients in that remaining 5%.  So I think those of us drinking organic soy milk are in the clear.

Nasoya Tofu

Tofu: Minimally Processed and, Typically, Hexane-Free.

But with non-organic products, you have to be careful.  In addition to soybean oil, soy protein isolates, soy protein concentrates and textured vegetable proteins (the first being the offending ingredient in Clif bars) are typically made with hexane.  But it seems that when you see “whole soybeans” or even “tofu,” both of which are minimally processed, you need not worry.  (Amy’s and Tofurkey products also got the green light from Cornucopia.)

So, mostly, it appears that the biggest risk is in processed foods.  Surprise, surprise.  You can also check out my earlier post about why I don’t eat processed foods.  (Hexane doesn’t make the list, but it’s another great reason.)

Do you eat foods that contain soy protein isolates or concentrates?

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8 Responses to How To Tell Which Soy Products Contain Neurotoxins

  1. OMG–there are just too many things to watch out for…how frightening.

    • Doug says:

      Yes, particularly for those of us who don’t eat meat! Soy is such a great quick source of calories. But fortunately old standbys like tofu and (presumably in most cases at least) soy milk should be AOK . . . .

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