Are soy foods healthy? Unfortunately this is widely debated, but it seems if properly prepared and consumed in moderation (not from supplements), soy can be excellent for good health.
Here are some of the various health benefits that have been linked to soy foods:
Soy products are protein and fiber-rich, excellent for satiety and keeping you regular. Soy is also a great source of omega-3 fats and disease-fighting isoflavones that promote heart health and reduce the risk of prostate and breast cancers.
In addition, soy contains phytoestrogens, which may counter excess natural estrogen’s negative effects on women—such as formation of uterine fibroids—and lessen menopausal symptoms.
Antioxidants: Soy foods contain antioxidants - compounds that protect cells from damage caused by unstable oxygen molecules called free radicals.
Cholesterol: In 38 studies involving 730 people, the connection between soy consumption and low cholesterol levels was strong. Those with diets where half the protein was soy had 10 percent lower cholesterol than those not eating soy. Saponins and phytosterols in soy are thought to bind cholesterol in the gut, and help it pass through our GI tract.
Hot flashes: Menopausal symptoms are almost immediately responsive to isoflavones. Often, within weeks of beginning soy consumption, women experience a 25 percent drop in hot flashes. Isoflavones are also thought to be antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory and more!
Immunity: Soybean peptides (chains of amino acids) can boost the immune system, helping the body fight disease and stay heallty.
An adequate serving to reap the benefits of soy, is just a cup of soymilk or just two ounces (or half a serving) of tofu per day - that's not a lot! When consumed in larger amounts soy's consumption becomes controversial in its health benefits; soy also falls into a category of foods known as goitrogens - vegetables, grains and foods that interfere with thyroid function. Speak with you physician or nutritionist to determine if soy foods, in moderation, are right for you.
Do note that many processed and packaged foods do contain soy in small amounts in the form of soy protein isolate, soybean oil and more. Do not discount these towards your soy intake. Eating more whole soy foods and avoiding soy as an additive may be your best bet for good health – as you can better measure serving size an it is less processed.