First of all, what is soy? Soy comes from soybeans (also called edamame), which is a type of legume, and can be found as the main ingredient in soymilk, tofu, soy nuts, soy flour and tempeh. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, people have been eating soybeans for around 5,000 years! Soy is found in many Chinese, Japanese and other Asian dishes, and is now also becoming more popular in western dishes. You can add tofu to salads, smoothies, desserts or main dishes (and can replace meat with soy). You can even make or buy soymilk, soy butter, soy yogurt and soy cheese.
Soybeans have building blocks of iron, calcium, magnesium, folic acid, protein, B vitamins and potassium. Soybeans are one of few plants that are a high source of protein. Clinical studies done in Asia show that a diet high in soy foods can lower the risk of heart disease, help reduce menopausal symptoms, and help prevent osteoporosis, as well as hormone-related cancers (University of Maryland Medical Center). To fight/prevent cancer and other illnesses, it's best to eat natural foods as often as possible, which are another reason why legumes are a good choice.
A clinical study done in Japan with about 5,000 men and women, showed that those who ate the most soy foods had the lowest cholesterol levels. From the study, it may be noted that soy protein lowered levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) up to 10% and total cholesterol up to 7%. Also, from the review of the study, those who have high cholesterol were advised to replace meat with 31-47 grams of soy protein each day to reduce their cholesterol by 9%.
While soybeans may help prevent breast cancer, it has been researched that if you already have breast cancer, eating soy may stimulate the growth of new cells.
People with kidney disease should be cautious to eating soy foods, since soy has more phosphorus and potassium than meat, fish and poultry.
Some minor side effects that are common with eating soy include upset stomach, constipation and digestive problems.
Women with uterine cancer should consult their doctor before taking any soy products.
The isoflavones found in soy may reduce iodine levels in the body, which can lead to the thyroid and hypothyroidism to not work properly. Very few cases have been found in infants who were fed soy formula.
What other research can we find about soy? What other information have you heard, read online, or been told by your doctor? Please share and add resources.
For more information about soy, click on the links below.