Soy: Back In Good Graces

Soy Foods

Soy Foods

If put on a pedestal, you can only go down. That’s what happened to soy foods, which were once touted, then controversial, and now more greatly understood.

About 20 years ago, claims that soy helped deter heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis took hold. In 1999 the FDA, based on the available scientific literature, approved the health claim that 25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Then came a bit of backlash and questions regarding soy’s impact on breast cancer and thyroid disease. Some clarity on these issues emerged from the Tokyo Eighth International Symposium on the Role of Soy in Health Promotion, and findings were published in the February edition of the Journal of Nutrition.

Soy protein lowers total and LDL cholesterol. Research published since approval of the FDA health claim, and analysis presented at the Tokyo meeting, report that cholesterol was lowered by about 5 percent, when consuming the recommended 25 daily grams of soy. This is less than originally believed, but still a move in the right direction. The authors state that the benefit of soy protein is similar to that of soluble fiber.

Two symposiums addressed the use of soy protein in preventing the reoccurrence of breast cancer. A five-year data analysis of breast cancer survivors associated soy intake with a better outcome, and the National Cancer Institute states that for breast cancer survivors, soy foods, as part of a healthy diet and in moderate amounts, are safe to consume.

The phytoestrogens in soy have fed rumors about a negative hormonal effect on men who consume soy foods. Two studies showed no impact on sperm concentration in men consuming isolated soy protein. A third study showed no impact on blood testosterone levels.

The bottom line is that soy foods are a nutritious addition to most everyone’s diet. Soy is so much more than tofu and edamame. Frozen soy entrees, snack bars and soy yogurt are just a few tasty examples.

Source: Miami Herald

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