Soy products, such as soy milk, tofu, and tempeh, are made from soybeans (otherwise known as edamame) and are an excellent vegetarian source of protein. Soy products are also great sources of fibre, B vitamins, omega-3 essential fatty-acids, and iron.
Despite their nutritious value, soy products have gotten a bad reputation as being carcinogenic (cancer-causing), unhealthy, and/or unsafe. This negative connotation surrounding soy is unfortunate, because the benefits of soy products as part of a healthy, balanced diet are numerous:
Lower risk of ovarian, endometrial, breast, prostate, and other cancers
Improved bone health and bone density, and lower risk of bone fractures
Lower blood cholesterol and lower risk for cardiovascular disease
Some research indicates soy products can help reduce: skin wrinkles, depression, allergy risk, asthma, and COPD - as well as suppress the storage of abdominal fat!
Soy products naturally contain compounds called isoflavones, which closely resemble the hormone estrogen. The phytoestrogen content of soy products has raised some health concerns about an associated increased risk of breast cancer for men and women, and fear over what effect these hormones may have on men.
We are happy to report that there has been no evidenced correlation between consuming soy products and risk of breast cancer in women. Actually, women who consume soy products as part of a balanced diet may benefit from a protective effect against ovarian cancer, multiple myeloma, and breast cancer. There is also no evidenced correlation between consuming soy products and male infertility (decreased testosterone levels and/or semen production) in current research. In fact, men who include soy products as part of their diet tend to have a lower risk for prostate cancer.
Nevertheless, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing! It’s always important to maintain balance and variety as part of a healthy diet, and to not get carried away consuming a single food or nutrient. Dietitians of Canada recommends no more than 2-3 servings of soy products per day. Soy products should be enjoyed along with foods from other food groups such as vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk & alternatives, and meat & alternatives.
It may be of interest to some of our readers to mention that soybeans are one of the most commonly grown crops in North America and they are often genetically modified (GMO). Many people may be concerned about GMO products, however there is currently no research showing that GMO products are harmful to human health. If you are concerned about consumption of GMOs, you can choose organic soy products.
Want to learn more about how you can incorporate soy as part of a healthy, balanced diet? Book your appointment with Alex or Stephanie today!
Pictures by Stephanie Dang.