The Benefits and Dangers of Soy Protein

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Soy is known as a healthy source of protein. Because it contains lower calories and saturated fats, soy is preferred by vegans and dieters alike. Although valued for its nutritional and healing benefits, there is a dark side to eating copious amounts of soy. And it’s important to know all about it before you increase your soy consumption.

Benefits of Soy Protein

Rich in Quality Protein

Protein keeps the muscles strong and the heart healthy. It also boosts the metabolic rate, so it promotes weight loss. Protein also increases the production of insulin in the body. Red meat is a great source of protein, but animal meats are high in calories and cholesterol. Soy protein is plant-based so it’s low in calories and fat. Between meat protein and plant protein, the latter is superior.

Decreases Bad Cholesterol

Soy protein reduces bad cholesterol LDL in the blood. In fact, eating at least 4 servings of soy protein each day will cut down cholesterol level by up to 10%. This, without affecting the levels of good cholesterol HDL in the blood. Studies show that soy protein contains nutrients that attack LDL cholesterol’s plasma without attacking HDL cholesterol.

Heart-Friendly

Soy protein is good for the heart too. Because it reduces bad cholesterol level in the body, it protects from cardiovascular diseases. Health experts believe that even a 1% drop in bad cholesterol reduces heart disease by 2%! Consuming soy proteins will keep the heart strong and healthy over time.

The Dangers of Soy Protein

Although healthier than animal protein, soy protein does have its drawbacks.

High in Phytic Acid or Phytates

Phytic acid or phytates minimize the processing of several minerals. These minerals include calcium, copper, magnesium, iron, and zinc. The effects of phytates are dangerous among developing children. Unfortunately, phytates aren’t neutralized by heat. So cooking soy products will not affect the phytates level in the product. Phytates are only neutralized through long fermentation.

Causes Pancreatic Diseases

Soy protein contains a special strain of nutrient that inhibits the processing of the protein. This nutrient is known as trypsin inhibitors. By interfering with protein digestion, trypsin inhibitors can cause pancreatic disease. In children, eating too much soy could lead to stunted growth.

Thyroid Disorders

Too much soy in the diet could also affect the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland regulates hormones and important enzymes. Unfortunately, soy protein contains goitrogens. Goitrogens are compounds that could interfere with the synthesis of thyroid hormones. These chemicals are linked to hypothyroidism, thyroid cancer, hormonal disorders and autoimmune thyroid disease.

Affects Oxygen Absorption

Soy protein contains a chemical called hemagglutinin. This chemical promotes blood clot, causing red blood cells to clump together. Blood clotting can lead to heart attack, strokes, thrombosis, and aneurysm.  It could also affect the absorption of oxygen within the tissues.

Linked to Breast Cancer

The composition of soy protein resembles that of a human estrogen. As such, it mimics the effects of estrogen while blocking normal estrogen. This leads to the disruption of the endocrine function. Consuming too much soy protein could lead to infertility. It also increases the risk of breast cancer.


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