Soy is a fantastic addition to your diet. It is low fat, contains no saturated fat, is a complete protein source and provides calcium, manganese, magnesium, selenium, iron, potassium and zinc.
There are many misconceptions creating fears about soy when it comes to nutrition and health. However soy is a healthy addition to your diet, so much so that The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, The Canadian Food Guide and The Dietary Guidelines for America, to name a few, all recommend soy as part of healthy diet. Let’s look at why.
Benefits of soy?
Taste - Firstly, soy is delicious and versatile. It can be eaten as tofu, edamame beans, tempeh and soy milk to name a few.
Muscle synthesis - Soy is a great alternative to animal protein. Soy protein isolate digestibility is around 89–92%, similar to eggs at 91% or meat at 90–94%, inferring that total protein requirement is similar regardless if eating soy or animal products. Soy protein supplementation also shows similar results to whey protein in response to resistance training when producing strength gains and lean body mass.
Reduced cancer risk - Regarding cancer, soy consumption is associated with a reduced risk for hormones dependent cancers including prostate, 15% of all male cancers worldwide, and breast, the most prevalent cancer worldwide. Breast cancer recurrence may also be reduced from soy consumption.
Reduced osteoporosis and CVD risk - Soy can help prevent osteoporosis particularly in menopausual women by reducing the bone resorption process and can lower cholesterol reducing CVD risk.
I suggest opting for non processed soy such as tofu, tempeh, soy milk and edamame.
Myth 1 - All soy is genetically modified.
Most soy is genetically modified, however most of this is actually for animal feed, soybean oil production and used in processed foods. As long term health effects on human is not yet known, I would recommend non GMO soy.
Myth 2 - Soy will give you man boobs. Soy has shown to not exert feminizing effects on men at intake levels equal to or even considerably higher than intakes typical for Asian males. One man was consuming around 3 litres of soy milk per day, exceeding recommended amounts for any food, and did experience enlarged breast tissue.
Myth 3 - Soy impairs thyroid function. Soy has shown to have no effect on thyroid hormones however may raise TSH insignificantly.
Myth 4 - Soy cannot replace meat as a complete protein source. Soy is a complete protein and when incorporated as part of a healthy diet with nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, can indeed be used as a meat replacement.
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