Wednesday, February 10, 2016

All About Soy: What Is It and Is It Healthy?


The soybean is a bean which has been cultivated and consumed in Asian countries for centuries. A raw soybean contains 36 grams of protein per 100 grams and also contains Iron, Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin B 6 and Vitamin C.

It is mostly used to add protein to animal feeds but is also used to make soy milk (3.3 grams of protein per 100 grams), soy flour (35 grams of protein per 100 grams), soy protein (81 grams of protein per 100 grams) and tofu (8 grams of protein per 100 grams).

Soy is a vegetarian source of protein, which contains necessary amino acids.

Here are a few other facts about Soy Products:

  • The Food and Drug Association says that consuming 25 grams of soy protein daily decreases heart disease risk.
  • Soybeans can't be eaten raw and need to be cooked.
  • Soybean meal, which is what remains after the fat has been removed from the soybean, is about 50% protein
  • Soybean oils, along with other vegetable oils, are considered unhealthy as they are high in Omega 6 Fatty Acids. We generally consume too much of this in our Western diets which can lead to inflammation, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
  • Studies show conflicting results about whether soy decreases cholesterol levels or not. More research is needed to be more conclusive about this.
  • Soy is shown to mess with the estrogen receptors in the body. While it has been shown to decrease prostate cancer in older men, it has also been seen as increasing breast cancer risk in woman. Some also suggest that high soy consumption can reduce testosterone levels in both men and woman. More research is also needed to determine what soy actually does in the body regarding hormone activity because studies are often conflicting.
  • Some people argue that fermented soy is healthy, but poses health risks when it is not fermented. There is conflicting research and evidence regarding this as well. Most people agree that the more soy is processed, the more it loses its potential health value.
  • Many people argue that soy plants have been genetically modified to withstand high levels of pesticides and herbicides for mass, commercial cultivation. Less leads to unnatural plans which won't carry as much nutritional benefits and pose their own health risks, and dangers of consuming products with residue poisons that lead to long term health issues like cancer. 
  • Processed soy products typically contain fewer compounds that would interfere with hormone levels, but also contain fewer nutrients. Some also argue that even though these might have a higher protein content, much of the protein in these products become damaged or of less use to the body. 
  • The health benefits or health risks associated with soy products requires more research, which some arguing that it is a super food and others arguing that it causes harm. More studies are currently being done to shed more light on the soy controversy.

As you can see above, there is a lot of conflicting about whether soy is good for you or not. What is my take? Soy can be used as a healthy form of protein as long as it is as natural and unprocessed as possible, such as raw soybeans that are cooked or using soy protein as an alternative to other protein powders. However, I do believe that even though it can be healthy to use soy protein to VARY your protein intake, it should not be consumed in access or form the majority of your protein consumption. I personally believe that the best form of protein is a varied form of protein, using a mixture of whey, soy, casein, pea, egg, meat, fish, seafood and other plant proteins. Stay Strong!