After years of conflicting reports and controversial claims being made about soybeans, it’s time to sift through the information and find out the truth. Many dieticians and consumers alike have experienced confusion over the mass amount of misinformation on the health effects of soy. Today’s Dietician, the magazine for nutrition professionals, recently took a look at the latest research to help clear up some issues about this plan protein and separate the true facts from weak claims that have been made without any real proof or logic. Here’s what they found:
Soy Not Linked to Breast Cancer
Some of the earlier soy studies suggested that genistein, a primary isoflavone in soy, increased the growth of estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer cells and therefore caused breast cancer growth. However, scientists later found that mice and rats (which were used as subjects in the study) metabolize phytoestrogens, such as genistein, differently than humans. Human studies have also advanced. According to Karen Collins, R.D. and nutrition advisor, “Population studies link soy consumption with lower breast cancer risk in Asia, where women consume moderate amounts of soy throughout their life. A moderate amount is approximately one to two servings a day.” Overall, studies in Asia have shown a lower risk of breast cancer with increased consumption of soy.
Whole Soy vs. Processed Soy
Some of the confusion around soy stems from research that states it is safer to consume soy in the form of whole rather than processed foods. Mark Messina, PhD, a nationally recognized expert on the health effects of soy, states that the research revealed a greater amount of tumor development in rodents correlated with a greater intake of processed soy. But Messina says that the effects of processed soy consumption on tumor growth in rodents cannot be applied to humans. Messina does however state that he would recommend whole soy over processed forms such as supplements for the same reasons he would recommend people to consumer whole apples instead of apple juice. He recommends that people get most of their soy from minimally processed choices such as edamame, tofu, and tempeh.
Sharon Palmer, RD, author of The Plant-Powered Diet states that it is important for dieticians to help consumers decipher the truth about soy among all of the false and/or weak data. According to Palmer, “After all, soy is a very healthful food that has major health benefits. It’s been linked with benefits such as heart health and may even reduce hot flashes in women. It’s a nearly perfect food—packed with vitamins, minerals, high-quality protein, fiber, and phytochemicals. You can feed a lot more people with less. We need to start moving toward a more plant-based diet, and soy can help with this goal.”
Consumers can get their soy intake from Sunrich Naturals products like our organic soymilk and edamame. Have some today and feel good about doing something great for your health!