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Myth: Soy is bad and should be avoided

Soy beans, edamame, tofu and soy milk

TRUTH:  This myth emerged following a variety of studies that indicate that soy is high in estrogens, it increases the need of some vitamins (i.e. Vitamin D), and that it interferes with protein digestion and thyroid function, and speeds the aging of brain cells.  Am I calling these studies a farce?! No.  I am not.  I have no doubt that one, several or all of these studies could be correct.  The thing is, and the reason this is a myth is because they need to be put in context.

Soy is among the ‘big 5’ of agricultural subsidies in this county – the others include corn, wheat, cotton and rice.  The reason is because processed soy is very versatile and so it’s added to a lot of foods.  So many foods in fact that processed soy is largely responsible for the increase from $300M in soy-food sales to $4 billion in less than 15 years.

So how are those two things related?  The point is that having a few servings of tofu, edamame, or soy milk per week won’t do damage.  That’s not overconsumption of soy – overconsumption (and risk to one’s health) is of concern when you’re eating a lot of soy-containing processed foods.

Plus, a diet containing soy moderation has actually been proven to lower cholesterol, slow the aging process and lower the risk of prostate and breast cancer.  It’s a good source of lean protein, fiber, calcium, B-vitamins and iron.

BOTTOM LINE:  Don’t have too many processed foods!  I feel pretty confident in saying soy is not a risk to those having a varied diet and having soy foods in minimally processed form.  So, the answer here is simple: soy, in moderation, has a lot of benefits.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

  1. CNN article
  2. Soy Nutrition Fact Sheet by Silk (aka keep in mind, they’re a little biased)

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