In the nutrition world, you’d be hard-pressed to find a food quite as controversial as soy.
Opinions vary wildly when it comes to this nutritious legume, which has been consumed for over 5,000 years in a variety of forms. Here in America, soy did not become popular until the 1980s and 1990s and there’s been confusion about its benefits ever since.
One of the most vocal lobbies preaching against soy’s health benefits is the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF). This non-profit organization supports the interests of the raw milk and grass-fed beef industry. Therefore, it’s no surprise the WAPF and similar organizations are motivated to disseminate misinformation regarding flawed soy research.
Busting the Myths
Ill-informed pundits blame soy for causing everything from inflammation to cancer. However, according to Nutrient's Chief Science Officer Dr. Stacey Bell, nothing could be further from the truth.
“There is no evidence that soy is inflammatory and just the opposite is true,” she explains. “Eating a lot of soy reduces markers of inflammation. Soy products are rich in antioxidants, have a high-quality protein, and contain dietary fiber.”
Dr. Bell also points out that increased soy intake is associated with a lower risk of inflammatory conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Like other legumes, soybeans are great sources of anti-inflammatory botanical compounds known as phytonutrients.
However, soy garners the scientific spotlight for its ability to reduce the inflammation marker C-reactive protein. Soy’s anti-inflammatory super powers protect your heart as high levels of C-reactive protein have been linked to coronary artery disease.
Plus, this protein-rich legume is an ideal stand-in for pro-inflammatory meat in meals.
Several studies also suggest that soy may improve cholesterol levels, especially so-called “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Lowers Pain-Causing Inflammation
Researchers at Oklahoma State University discovered that people with osteoarthritis, especially men, who ate 40 grams of soy protein daily for three months, experienced less pain and moved more easily than their non soy eating peers.
Another study focused on 1,005 middle-aged Chinese women. Researchers found that women with higher soy consumption had lower circulating inflammatory markers.
Fact or Fiction: Estrogen, Fertility and Cancer
Soy contains no estrogen. Instead, it is rich in isoflavones, a class of phytoestrogens that acts like a weak estrogen in the body. Phytoestrogens have actually been shown to be beneficial in lowering the risk of some types of cancer by blocking the actual estrogen.
Studies have shown that soy improves fertility in women undergoing fertility treatment. Plus, it’s been found to decrease symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes.
Also, contrary to popular opinion, there is no concrete research proving soy increases risk of breast cancer. In fact, in a review of 35 studies on soy isoflavone intake and women, researchers concluded that higher soy intake reduced breast cancer risk in both pre- and postmenopausal Asian women.
For women in Western countries, researchers found soy intake did not increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
Much of the negative news about soy is based on animal studies. Phytoestrogen behaves differently in humans than in animals. Soy offers many health benefits including reducing inflammation, managing cholesterol and improving fertility, to name just a few.
Nutrient offers tasty, convenient nutrient-dense food products that you can easily incorporate into your diet. We demand the highest quality and purity available. That means the non-GMO soy protein utilized contains only naturally occurring amino acids. All other compounds have been removed.