The answer is that you should consume soy in moderation, or eat the amount of soy recommended by your doctor if you suffer from health problems that can be affected by soy. When you do choose soy foods, it’s important that you choose foods that contain real soy and lack chemicals, otherwise, your health and body won’t benefit at all from consuming soy.
Here’s a close look at why soy in moderation can be good for your health, and why you should avoid consuming processed soy products.
Health benefits of isoflavones
Soybeans contain high amounts of isoflavones, which are natural plant compounds that have been found to work similarly to estrogen in the human body. Some health experts claim that soy can increase the risk for breast cancer, thyroid problems, and other diseases that have been linked to hormonal imbalance. Soybeans and soy products contain the highest amount of isoflavones compared to all other foods, but only contain 1/1000 the amount of estrogen produced by the human body. In women and individuals with low estrogen, isoflavones could help improve hormonal imbalance, whereas women who already have healthy estrogen levels could trigger problems with hormonal imbalance if they consume too much soy.
Soy in your diet
Soybeans also contain compounds known as phytates, which are antioxidants that bind to minerals inside your body and slow down their absorption, which could lead to health problems and nutritional deficiencies in some individuals. However, phytates shouldn’t pose a risk for health problems if you’re already eating a healthy, balanced diet that can make up for the loss of micronutrients on behalf of phytates.
Soy is a large part of the Asian culture, and is typically fermented before consumption. The fermentation process breaks down soy to make it easier for digestion; plus, fermentation adds probiotics to soy, which are ideal for improving gut health. Examples of fermented soy products are tofu, miso, tempeh, and natto.
When adding soy to your diet, only consume whole, real soy. Do not consume processed soy products, which contain unhealthy fats and other synthetic compounds that can increase your risk for health problems. Stay away from soy protein isolate, soy supplements, soy ice cream, soy cheese, soy burgers, and soy oil, and stick to consuming whole, organic soy.
Before you start or stop consuming real, organic soy, consult with your health care provider, dietitian, or nutritionist to verify whether the changes you’re making to your diet are ideal for you based on your health. Your doctors can evaluate your current health, and confirm whether eating soy will do your body harm or good.