Updated: Feb 8
Soy is highly nutritious and rich with protein. There are many forms of soy. It can be used for miso soup, tofu, whole, soy meat alternatives, soy flour, soybean oil, etc. However, there is controversy surrounding soy. Generally, fermented soy is better because it is easier to digest and has higher nutrition. Many are reluctant to promote soy as a healthy food either because of misinformation or because it’s hard to analyze the full effects of soy based on studies since it has so many forms. Based on current studies, there are more proven benefits of soy when consuming a healthy daily amount. Typically that constitutes 3-4 servings for adults and 2 servings for children.
Pros of Soy
Soy is not only rich in protein but it has a healthy dose of calcium, fiber, magnesium, and potassium, iron, thiamin, and folate. Additionally, fermented soy has isoflavones and bacteria that benefits brain health. It has the potential to decrease risks of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson's disease, and cognitive decline.
Many studies, including a study in 2015 by Cambridge University Press, have found that consuming soy has reduced levels of cholesterol, including, reducing LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol in the arteries. LDL is the bad cholesterol and reduction of LDL means that there is less chance of clogging in the arteries. Lowering cholesterol also results in decreased risks of heart disease.
Soy has increased and restored bone mineral density and as a result, is a good way to treat osteoporosis for women. According to the National Library of Medicine, a study suggests that soy is useful for optimal bone health. Dietary patterns on daily consumption of soy support the argument that soy is a good daily addition to a diet.
Cons of Soy
One common concern with soy is that isoflavones can lower or interfere with thyroid function. However, this is only a concern for women. According to Medical News Today, a study done in 2016 suggested, “women with higher soy intake had a higher chance of having elevated levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).” And high TSH can mean an underactive thyroid.
Another con of soy suggests that soy may be harmful for pregnant women. However, others contradict that and even advise pregnant women to consume 1-2 servings of soy daily. The reason some say it is harmful is because of the isoflavones, a chemical that mimics hormone estrogen. On the other hand, it is a great source of plant protein for pregnant women. So the commonality amongst many of these contradictions is that consuming 1-2 servings does not cause harm and fermented soy is even more healthful.
Soy is very rich in protein and it has many varieties. There are contradicting studies regarding soy but there are more positives of soy than negatives. This includes lowering cholesterol, restoring bone mineral density, and more. The recommendation is that if you take the proper daily serving of soy then there will be more benefits.