There are lot of conflicting reports about soy. Let’s take a look and learn the answers to some common questions like what is soy, is soy good for you, and is soy safe to eat?
On a personal note, I’ve been on a plant based diet for migraine reduction for about 4 months now. In addition to experiencing less migraines, I’m learning a lot about food and how to get extra protein into my daily diet.
What is Soy?
Soy is anything that comes from the soybean plant. Soybeans originated in China but found their way to the US around 1765, though it wasn’t developed as a food crop for humans until about the 1900’s. Soy production was originally intended for feeding livestock.
Soybeans contain over 45% protein. Other top ranking proteins are milk, beef, and eggs. For those who eat plant based, vegan, and vegetarian, though, it’s difficult to get protein through those other sources.
Soybeans are made up of carbohydrates and fiber. They are slow digesting, which means that they can help healthy bacteria flourish in the digestive system and keep you full for longer. If you don’t have a soy allergy or intolerance, soy products can be great for helping build a healthy GI system.
Are all soy products genetically modified?
Not all soy products contain GMO ingredients, but a lot of them do. About 90% of the soybeans grown today are genetically modified. If you want to avoid GMO’s you’ll want to specifically look for organic soy.
How are hormone levels impacted?
There is a lot of information out there about soy and how it impacts hormone levels. Some articles claim that it can cause or impact cancers, childhood development, and everything in between.
Phytoestrogens, plant nutrients found naturally in plants, are found in soybeans. Phytoestrogens can have both stimulating and inhibiting impacts on estrogen levels in the body.
A normal diet consisting of average levels of soy based products should not give you enough phytoestrogens to cause even slight problems.
The main take away from the unbiased research I’ve read is that a super high intake of phytoestrogens via soybean products can cause hormone problems in both men and women, but we’re talking about eating LOTS of soy concentrate in order to achieve those levels. Soy milk, cheeses, meat substitutes, and tofu do not have high enough levels to cause issues in a normal diet.
Can soy cause cancer?
I was curious about the rumors that soy impacts cancer, so I did some research and found that when we search for information about soy, we also find misinformation about soy.
In short, animal studies point towards soy having negative cancer impact, but human studies show the opposite. The main issue with soy is the GMO component, so if you’re including soy in your diet, look for organic.
Impact on weight loss
Weight loss and lean protein often go hand in hand. The truth is that most studies have concluded that lean protein is lean protein when it comes to losing weight. Soybean protein acts the same way that other lean proteins act in helping people to lose weight. This study is very informative on the topic of body composition and soy-based products.
A quick overview about consumption and the health claim information that goes along with soybeans and soy products:
As a source of protein for those who don’t have allergies, I’d suggest that soy products, like most things, are best when they are less processed.
Long term risks of consuming soy are low unless you are consuming high amounts of soy protein isolate, textured vegetable protein, or soy protein powders. Whole and fermented food options like, edamame, miso, tempeh, milk, and cheeses made from soybeans are healthier choices.
What do you do?
Personally, I don’t eat much soy. I’ll eat edamame on occasion, and tofu or tempeh products about once every 2-3 months. I try to focus on other high protein foods like beans and whole grains, and vegetables like potatoes and broccoli.
I’m not one to give out medical advice, so I won’t start now. But I am very interested in how food impacts our bodies and I want to help my community learn about food. I’ve been talking about soy sauce substitutes, artificial sweeteners, and healthy oil for a while, and this is one more topic that we can all learn more about.
Looking for some high protein recipes?
Whether you get your protein from animals, plants, or meat substitutes and tofu products, there are plenty of high protein recipes that you’ll love on My Crazy Good Life.
Note that the average recommended daily protein intake is 46-56 grams for sedentary adults. The plant based recipes below have lower protein per serving than the meat or soy recipes, and that’s ok.
Those on a plant based diet typically eat more than 3 meals throughout the day and get their protein in small increments throughout the day.
High protein meat recipes:
High protein plant based recipes:
High protein soy recipes: