If you ask someone about their opinion on the healthfulness of soy, you can get one of the two answers: it is a nutritious superfood that all of us should eat or it is an unsafe food that can disrupt our hormonal system. Let us see the truth about soy.
The Kind Of Soy Matters Much
Soy is available in many different forms for consumption. There are cooked variants called edamame, which is either available shucked or in their pods. Soy is also available in minimally processed forms like tempeh, soy milk, or tofu. Tempeh is a soybean cake made using fermented soybeans. As per the health experts, tempeh can be a great source of probiotics for our body. Natto and miso are other fermented products that contain soy.
There are also more processed versions of soy like soybean oil, soy protein isolates, soy sauce, soy protein powder, etc that are used in many plant-based food and plant-based meat products. Let us see which of these you should and should not eat to ensure your health.
Some Claims About Soy
There are many claims about soy and one of the most common claims is that eating soy can harm our body hormones. Discussed below are a few of the common myths about soy.
Claim # 1 Phytoestrogens In Soy Can Increase Risk Of Breast Cancer
Soy indeed contains phytoestrogens and these are natural compounds that have a similar structure as estrogen. Although they are not estrogen. Phytoestrogens can be either weakly estrogenic or antiestrogenic and block the effects of estrogen. Many other foods also contain phytoestrogens and these cannot extend the imminence of breast cancer.
Claim # 2 Eating Soy Affects The Production Of Thyroid Hormones
Soy contains goitrogens and other plant-based food items like kale, strawberries, broccoli, and peanuts also contain goitrogens to a lesser degree. For those people suffering from hypothyroidism, goitrogens can make it challenging for the thyroid gland to produce its hormones. Nonetheless, this hinges on the way soy is prepared.
The truth is that soy does not have any effect on normal healthy people and you need not avoid soy from your diet. If you do have a thyroid-based health issue, you can have cultured, fermented, or aged soybean products like natto, soy sauce, and miso. Cooking soy can also help.
Claim # 3 Soy Decreases Level Of Testosterone in Men
Many people claim that soy can decrease the level of testosterone in men and can give them feminine qualities. However, clinical evidence proves that the isoflavones in soy do not have any effect on male fertility or hormone levels. There are also data showing that having soy can minimize the danger of prostate cancer.
Claim # 4 Phytates In Soy Can Make Them Less Available For Absorption
Phytates are stored phosphorus and are commonly present in nuts, whole grains, legumes, and seeds. Phytates can indeed bind to minerals and to avoid this, you just need to cook the beans and include more mineral absorption enhancers like onions and garlic in your plant-based food preparation. Fermenting, sprouting, or soaking can also reduce the phytic acid levels of soy significantly. Phytates in plant-based food can have many health-promoting properties like prevention of osteoporosis, and anti-cancer activity.
Claim # 5 Trypsin Inhibitors In Soy Can Affect The Digestion Of Protein
Trypsin inhibitors are compounds that can inhibit trypsin, which is an enzyme that is necessary to digest protein. About 90% of the trypsin activity can be avoided by thorough cooking. Also, fermentation in the case of soy sauce and miso can deactivate almost all the anti-nutrients in soy.
Claim # 6 Lectin In Soy Can Cause Inflammation And Allergy
Lectins are another protein that is commonly found in plant-based food items like peas, cabbage, tomatoes, avocado, carrots, legumes, raspberries, seeds, and grains. Soaking and cook soybeans can help eliminate a good amount of lectins and can help prevent the likeliness of digestives issues.
Almost all of us soak and cook soybeans and this can help eliminate lectins and other antinutrients present in these beans. Soybeans are unlikely to pose any risk to our health and can contribute to our longevity.
Protective Uses Of Soy
Soybeans are a complete source of protein and contain all the necessitous amino acids required by our body. Besides, these beans are rich in minerals, fiber, and many other phytochemicals. They contain vitamin B, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, calcium, manganese, copper, and phosphorus. Having minimally processed soy can have a protective effect and can lower the risk of some forms of cancer like prostate cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer. Soy can also help decrease the levels of cholesterol and affect the levels of blood glucose. While including soy in your plant-based diet plan, the best practice is to eat no more than 5 servings per day.