Soy food products are becoming more and more popular. There are many types of soy-based products on the market, and they have many health benefits to them. There has, however, been concerns that consuming soy products can be linked to developing some forms of cancer. Let’s discuss what soy is, what the concerns are, and what the recent research is showing.
What is Soy
Soy products are made from the soybean plant. They are a great vegan alternative and they provide many nutrients that often aren’t found in plant products. For example, they are one of the best sources of plant-protein. Foods such as tofu and tempeh are often used as meat alternatives because they are comparable in protein amounts. In addition, these products also have a much lower fat content compared to meat and poultry. Also, eating soy products is another way to increase your fiber intake. Other examples of foods that contain soy include soy milk, edamame, and miso.
With all of these benefits and nutrients found in soy, why do some believe that it can be linked to cancer? Well, soy contains an element called isoflavones. These are phytoestrogens (plant estrogens), similar to the hormone that we produce in our body (source). High levels of estrogen are associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer. So, there is a misconception that eating an excess of soy products will spike estrogen levels, leading to a higher risk of breast cancer. But what does the research actually reveal?
The theory that eating soy will increase risk of breast cancer is untrue. No studies performed on people have shown a link between soy product consumption and the presence of breast cancer (source). Phytoestrogens and estrogen that is found in our body are not the same, and the consumption of phytoestrogen does not impact the amount that we produce. Some studies have even shown that consumption of soy has the ability to protect against breast cancer (source). In fact, Asian countries that consume more soy on a regular basis have a lower prevalence of breast cancer (source).
Soy can be found in many foods, and the more often you consume it the more you will reap the nutritional benefits of it. For example, you can substitute meat for tofu or tempeh in any of your meals. They can be baked, sauteed, grilled, or thrown in the airfryer! You can also incorporate soy milk into your routine, and use it in leux of regular cow’s milk. Some ideas for this is to have soy milk in your coffee, or use in a smoothie. Miso is another great source of soy, and can be found in sauces, dressings, and marinades. Lastly, we love to have edamame on hand to snack on or to incorporate into our meals. It is high in soy and is also a great source of protein!
All in all, you should not be concerned about consuming soy products. They have great nutritional value and can be useful to help meet your nutrient goals. The benefits outweigh any risks that may be thought to be associated with soy.
If you have more questions regarding soy, schedule a call with Alli here.