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Soy Protein: What is the Truth About Soy?

Posted by Sandy H. Patient Expert

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:
  1. It has been shown to significantly reduce LDL cholesterol levels (the bad cholesterol).
  2. It has a beneficial effect on heart health.
  3. It has been linked to improved prostate health.
  4. It can help reduce menopausal symptoms.
  5. It helps maintain muscle mass, which is critical for bodybuilders.
  6. 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!

Until tomorrow,

Sandy Huard
Answers (3)
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Make sure the soy source is organic, as most soy crops are conventionally grown from GMO/GE seeds...there's no nutrition there, and the seeds produce toxic crops.

There is an urban myth that the negatives of soy are greater than the facts reveal. 

First, let’s look at Asian cultures, where soy has been an integral part of the diet for centuries.  The drastic consequences of soy have not appeared there, and meanwhile, those societies report lower risks of breast and prostate cancer than we do in the West.

 Dr. Andrew Weil has this to say about soy on his web site,, “Critics of soy allege that it is bad for the thyroid, can cause cancer, Alzheimer's disease and mineral deficiencies.  None of these sensational claims has ever been proven.  Based on the weight of available evidence, I remain convinced that soy is safe and nutritious when eaten in relatively whole and unrefined forms in reasonable amounts.”

Notice the key requirements that Dr. Weil suggests regarding healthy soy intake - it should be ‘whole’ and ‘unrefined’.  In other words, the problems associated with soy have more to do with the genetically modified and isolated versions.  When soy is in a natural, whole food form it is easily assimilated by the body, and in fact is one of the most beneficial forms of protein on the planet.

Many of the problems associated with soy arise from ‘isolated soy protein’ or 'soy isolates' used in fake meats and other products sold at health food stores as vegetarian food.  When soy is modified in this way, or when it is genetically modified, then the body does not understand how to process it.  That’s why some people may experience digestive problems after consuming soy-based products.  It is important to be sure that the soy being consumed is in a whole food form, not isolated.  Avoid soy isolates whenever possible.

While soy milk is often touted as a healthier alternative to cow’s milk for several reasons, there are a few things to remember when buying soy milk. Dr. Weil writes, “I recommend certain precautions when buying soy milk. Since many soy crops are heavily treated with pesticides, always buy organic soy products. I also recommend avoiding brands of soy milk that contain the thickening agent carrageenan, a seaweed derivative, which I believe may be harmful, especially to the intestinal tract.”

This is why I recommend using rice milk, almond milk or water instead.  So, while there are a few precautions pertaining to refined versions of soy, the benefits of whole soy in its natural form outweigh any unsubstantiated claims of danger.

yes, i agree.  also, due to the fact that many people (men and women) are estrogen-dominant due to drinking from (off-gassing) plastic bottles, consumption of growth hormone fed/injected animal products, etc.  due to it's estrogen nature, soy could complicate this condition.
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