Soy has been a primary source of protein for people in Asia for centuries.
More Americans are beginning to realize its health benefits.
Soy is a gluten-free nutritional powerhouse, brimming with protein, magnesium,
arginine, isoflavones (phytochemicals found in plants) and Omega-3.
Because it is a “complete protein,” containing all of the essential
and non-essential amino acids we need to survive, incorporating soy into
your diet just makes sense, especially if you're a vegetarian or have
a sensitivity to wheat.
Soy products, and their isoflavones in particular, are thought to provide
many health benefits, like reducing the risk of heart disease and lowering
“bad” cholesterol levels. It may also help protect women from
reproductive cancers. Soy has also been linked to lung health and to prevention
of metabolic syndrome (which can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes).
Soy is also known to:
- Prevent and improve asthma symptoms
- Lower the risk of depression
- Improve bone density
- Improve digestive health
The Great Soy Debate
Does soy cause cancer? It’s a question on many people’s minds
because of the similarities between isoflavones and naturally occurring
estrogen. Because of this similarity, some people believe that consuming
soy may raise their risks of certain hormonally-sensitive cancers, like
breast cancer. However, studies suggest that the isoflavones in soy may
actually decrease estrogen levels, and therefore reduce estrogen-associated
Another soy controversy relates to male fertility. Men who eat soy regularly
have been shown to have lower sperm concentrations, however the sperm
count remains the same. How is that possible? Soy appears to stimulate
the prostate gland into producing a larger amount of ejaculate, so while
there may be a lower number of sperm per milliliter of fluid, there is
a higher volume of fluid and therefore no overall decrease in fertility.
Easy Ways To Incorporate Soy Into Your Diet
The FDA has found that at least 25mg of soy protein per day are required
to potentially reduce cholesterol. If you're looking to increase your
soy intake, here are some products that will please the taste buds of
even first-time soy consumers:
- Soy-based meat alternatives
- Edamame (whole soybean pods) or roasted soy nuts
- Soy flour (it’s naturally gluten-free!)
- Calcium-fortified soy milk.
- Soy nut butter
Adding soy to your diet is easy when you start by substituting one product
at a time, like opting for soy milk instead of cow's milk. With so
many choices available, you may be surprised at how quickly you develop
a taste for it. It's soy good!
What are some unexpected or delicious ways you’ve added soy to your
diet? Tell us in the comments below.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.