If you haven't heard much about the benefits of soy protein, you could be missing out. Now, if you eat soy regularly, do you know that soy has a potential downside too? In fact, there are risks associated with eating soy. So, here are the straight goods, both good and bad, about soy protein.
First off, let's talk about the benefits of consuming soy protein. Eat soy because:
It has been shown to significantly reduce LDL cholesterol levels (the bad cholesterol).
It has a beneficial effect on heart health.
It has been linked to improved prostate health.
It can help reduce menopausal symptoms.
It helps maintain muscle mass, which is critical for bodybuilders.
It has recently been linked to increased bone mass and reduced bone fracture in older women.
How about that for some great benefits? And for most vegetarians, soy protein is a staple. As for non-vegetarians who consume meat, fish and poultry, maybe not so much. Before making a recommendation on how much soy you should consume, let's turn to the risks of eating soy protein.
Although there is still debate on the matter, studies have shown that the primary risk for women who consume high amounts of soy is an increased risk of developing breast cancer. This is especially true for women who are in high risk groups already. The culprit? The plant-based estrogens called isoflavones found in soy are believed to play a role. No doubt there will be further research because some claim that these isoflavones in fact reduce your cancer risk.
Suffice to say, that if you are a vegetarian, ensure that you do not solely consume soy daily. Instead, eat other high-protein food sources in your diet, such as chickpeas, beans and lentils. If you are a non-vegetarian, by all means add soy to your diet because of the many benefits mentioned above. Finally, if you are at high risk of developing breast cancer, avoid soy and talk to your doctor if you have concerns.
One further note: Flaxseeds are a great alternative for anyone who doesn't eat soy. Also consider a soy protein supplement, especially if you strength-train. It'll help you build muscle and get lean.
So that's it. Check out some of the great soy recipes online. When prepared properly, soy is delicious!