ARE SOY FOODS HEALTHY?
Soy is a protein-packed way to replace meat and dairy products for vegans, vegetarians, and those who are lactose intolerant.
With so much conflicting and confusing information out there, you may wonder if soy is actually good for you or not?
On the one hand, you hear it's rich in nutrients and powerful minerals. Diets containing it appear to have many health benefits.
It can lower blood sugar levels, improve heart health, reduce menopause symptoms, and even lower the risk of certain cancers.
But on the other hand, headlines about the negative effect of soy pop up all over the internet.
"Soy increase the risk of breast cancer."
"Soy hinders your thyroid function," or maybe something like
"Increase your chances of getting pregnant by avoiding soy."
So which is true? It's all a bit confusing, we know!
As with all foods, the research on soy is still ongoing. But in recent years, it has been discovered that moderate consumption of minimally processed soy foods (more on what those are later) does indeed offer some benefits.
BENEFITS OF SOY
Protect Against Heart Disease------
Eating a diet rich in soy products is linked with a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, including strokes and heart attacks.
Soy isoflavones appear to reduce inflammation in blood vessels and improve their elasticity — two key factors believed to protect the heart.
People with existing risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, seem to be among those who might benefit most from soy-based diets.
Lowers Blood Pressure Levels------
Soybeans and soy foods are generally rich in arginine, an amino acid believed to help regulate blood pressure levels.
Soybeans are also rich in isoflavones, a compound believed to offer blood-pressure-lowering benefits.
Reduce The Risk Of Certain Cancers------
Soy-rich diets may help lower the risk of certain types of cancer, but more research is needed on this subject.
One study indicated that a diet high in soy was associated with a reduced risk of recurrence of breast cancer.
Other studies suggest that high intakes of soy isoflavones may lower the risk of endometrial cancer by around 19%.
Soy-rich diets may be associated with a 7% lower risk for digestive tract cancers and an up to 12% lower risk of colon cancer. Men eating soy-rich diets may benefit from a lower risk of prostate cancer.
Could Assist With Infertility------
Soy actually appears to be beneficial for fertility and moderate soy consumption won't pose a problem in productive health.
Women undergoing IVF are more likely to get pregnant if they consume unprocessed soy.
Furthermore, no differences were found in reproductive health between adults who consumed soy formula as infants compared to those who consumed cow's milk formula as babies.
But don't overdo it. Daily consumption of over 100mg of soy isoflavones (the equivalent of 6-ounces uncooked tempeh or 16 cups of soy milk) can lead to impaired ovarian function.
May Help With Menopause Symptoms------
As soy is rich in phytoestrogens, or plant estrogens, they can bind to estrogen receptors in the body.
Menopause causes a woman's estrogen levels to naturally decrease, causing unpleasant symptoms, such as tiredness, vaginal dryness, and hot flashes.
By binding to estrogen receptors in the body, soy isoflavones (or phytoestrogens) help reduce the severity of these symptoms.
It can also help with joint pain, depression, and irritability, all common symptoms of menopause.
MODERATE SOY CONSUMPTION IS NOT BAD FOR YOU
Soy Gets The Green Light
As you can see, soy has many benefits and far outweigh the minimal risks it poses.
You also need to consume a reasonably large amount before the negative effects become significant.
As with all things in life, moderation is key and the quality of your food. Limit processed soy products and choose the most natural form of soy.
But, we would say it is safe to say that soy is a joy!! So go ahead and order that tofu ;-)