The Pros and Cons of Soy

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Soy and soy products are popular among dieters because they’re packed with high-quality protein, fiber, and essential minerals. Soy is also a rich source of isoflavones, lowers the cholesterol level, and prevents weight gain. However, despite its many health benefits, some health experts believe that soy could be bad for the health.

Pros of Adding Soy to Your Diet

Considered as health food, soy and soy products contain health giving nutrients that keep the body fit and healthy. Below are some of the many benefits of adding soy to your diet:

Keeps the Heart Healthy

Clinical tests reveal that consuming 25 grams of soy significantly reduces cholesterol level. It also helps keep the heart healthy and prevents plaque buildup in the arteries that causes cardiovascular diseases. What’s more, because it’s high in protein and is popularly used as alternative to meat and poultry products, you consume less saturated fat.

Prevents Cancer

Research shows that consuming at least a serving of whole soy food everyday throughout childhood and adolescence will reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by up to 50% later in life. That said, too much of a good thing could also be bad for you. Excessive consumption of soy products increases the risk of cancer in mature women.

In men, consuming two services of soy and soy products everyday cuts the risk of prostate cancer by up to 30%. What’s more, those who suffer from prostate cancer have higher chances of inhibiting the progression of the disease by adding more soy products in their diet.

Cons of Adding Soy to Your Diet

Leads to Thyroid Problems

The high level of isoflavones in soy inhibits the body’s ability to produce thyroid hormones, which is instrumental in regulating the body’s metabolic rate and body temperature. A long-term effect of consuming soy will lead to hypothyroidism, a condition wherein an individual gain weight uncontrollably develops cold intolerance and chronic fatigue.

Causes Bone Problems

Certain compounds that occur naturally in soy, like phytic acid, could inhibit calcium absorption, causing bone problems. Phytic acid is a plant extract that essentially blocks calcium. The same compound prevent minerals like magnesium and iron from being absorbed by the body and this further increases the risk of developing bone diseases over time.

Is Soy Bad or Good for You?

Managing the serving of soy is the key to enjoying its many health benefits without the risks. In most cases, the cons of eating soy are a result of excessive consumption. As long as you keep the portions small, there’s no reason why you should eliminate soy from your diet at all.

Preparation is also another factor that may help neutralize soy’s undesirable effects on the body. Just limit your intake of soy milk, edamame, or tofu. You can be a little liberal in portions for any fermented soy products like tempeh or miso because the preservation process helps prevent the calcium-interfering compounds in soy.

Finally, avoid all types of overly processed soy products like fake meat or protein bars and just choose whole soy foods.

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