January 13, 2012 in Healthy Eating
Soy has become a very popular way to reduce the amount of animal protein in many people’s diets. It is one of the main protein sources for vegetarians and vegans. Soy milk, soy yogurt, soy cheese and frozen soy ice cream are way for people who can’t tolerate cow’s milk to enjoy dairy products. While soy definitely has health benefits, there have been some studies which show soy consumed in large amounts may pose health risks. Overall soy is a healthy food source and researchers agree more study is needed on the health risks associated with it. The question to include soy products in your diet is one you will need to weigh carefully according to your health history and taste preferences. Here are the facts I found on soy.
Soy protein is a plant based protein and has no cholesterol or fat. In 1999 the American Heart Association gave approval for manufacturers to label their soy products as heart healthy. The Food and Drug Administration also approved the heart healthy label. This was after studying 27 studies presented in a petition by Protein Technologies International, Inc. The studies stated that soy products can help lower total cholesterol and lower the LDL (bad) cholesterol.
According to the Mayo Clinic, other health benefits of soy include reduction of menopausal symptoms, reduction of inflammation in diseases such as arthritis, decrease the risk of breast cancer, decrease the risk of prostrate cancer, and as a safe alternative for cow’s milk based formulas for infants.
There have been many studies about the risk of consuming soy. Some of these risks include an increase in the phytoestrogens in the blood that mimic estrogen and putting some women at a higher risk for breast cancer. This claim is under more investigation since no conclusive evidence has been found to link soy and breast cancer. Other studies have shown a connection between consuming large amounts of soy to a reduction in absorption of calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, zinc and iron. A study at Belfast’s RoyalMaternityHospitallinks soy isoflavones to a decrease in the ability for a man’s sperm to fertilize an egg.
Is it Safe or Not?
One thing I can recommend is to always use organic soy products. These are grown, harvested, and processed without the use of inorganic chemicals. Some processed soy manufacturers use a petroleum based solution to break down the soy protein. That just sounds nasty. The traditional way to create soy milk is to place soy beans in a press and collect the “milk”. It can then be drank or made into tofu. So check the labels of all of the soy products you buy to make sure they are really organic.
When consumed in moderation soy would seem to be a safe way to add plant proteins into your diet. If you are concerned about your risk factors, talk to your doctor. Whatever the reason you may have for wanting to include soy into your diet, whether you are studying to become a project manager, pharmacy tech, or earning your MBA and want to make healthy choices or try out a vegetarian lifestyle, soy is a way to reduce the animal protein and fat in your diet. Almost all information I used for research states there is more study needed to determine the safety of consuming soy products.