Soy Products: Overview
People across the world have enjoyed the benefits of soy for thousands of years. Derived from soybeans, soy provides a high quality protein, and it is one of the few plant-source proteins with all 8 essential amino acids. Additionally, soy contains many beneficial compounds, such as isoflavones, which may provide several health benefits.
Soy's Health Benefits
According to research, a healthy diet that includes soy may lower blood cholesterol levels, effectively reducing the risk for arteriosclerosis and heart disease. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the American Heart Association recommend consuming 25 grams of soy protein per day as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol for heart health. In addition, research shows that Asian populations who regularly consume soy foods have a lower occurrence of heart disease as compared to populations that consume the typical "Western" diet.
Preliminary studies are researching the possible preventative properties soy may have with hormone-related cancers, including breast and prostate cancer. More research is necessary.
Soy may also help reduce the discomfort associated with the symptoms of menopause, in part due to the isoflavones found in soy. Isoflavones are plant compounds that may effect actions of estrogen in a beneficial way. More information is available on the soy isoflavones page.
Soy supplements such as soy protein powder and soy protein bars are an excellent way to add soy to the diet, especially for those who do not care for the taste of whole soybean-based foods.
Using Soy Products
Use soy products as directed.
Side-effects and Cautions:
Those allergic to soy should not consume any soy-based products. Soy products may reduce the effectiveness of the breast cancer drug tamoxifen, as well as the osteoporosis drug raloxifene. Consult your physician if you have breast cancer or are taking either of these two medications before consuming soy products. May cause gastrointestinal discomfort in sensitive individuals. Soy products may aggravate the symptoms associated with gout. Although consumption of soy in pregnant/nursing women is believed safe, more research is necessary to confirm this. There is no known danger of children and infants consuming soy products. Soy products may interfere with the absorption of the minerals iron and zinc.