It certainly hasn’t been a part of our diet for centuries but with increased health consciousness and everyone signing up for a gym membership, the need for protein has made soya or soy products an integral part of our diets. Whether you have it as a soya curry or soya beans ground and added to regular flour or even tofu or edamame beans—soya has been a hot topic of debate among nutritionists worldwide. What does it do to the estrogen in the body? Is it as rich a source of protein as some claim it to be? And can it replace meat? If you’ve been wondering about the pros and cons of soy foods, here’s a perspective…
The pros of eating soy products
- Soy foods are a great source of protein and amino acids especially for vegetarians and vegans who might not even consider eggs to be a part of their diet. While dals and pulses do contribute some protein content, a diet with soy products could do their muscle composition a whole lot of good!
- Apart from protein, soy rich foods are high on calcium and isoflavnes (a type of phytoestrogen that can replicate the effect of estrogen.) A recent study even concludes that a regular consumption of soy based foods can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis by improving bone health.
On the other hand, this same activity of mimicking estrogen, some studies found, could be linked to increased breast cancer occurrences. However, this is only restricted to a particular version of soy that might be found in certain type of foods such as artificially enhanced supplements and energy bars.
- Soya also happens to be a rich source of minerals such as potassium, magnesium and iron and ranks low on the glycemic index This means that while it does have carbs, they’re released much slowly—ensuring that that the soy rich products you’re consuming don’t alter the blood sugar levels.
- Many studies between soy proteins versus animal protein have ruled in soy’s favour with one of them even claiming that replacing lean meat with soy lead to a reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol.
The cons of eating soy rich foods
- Some studies claim that while soy might be a rich source of many minerals, others suggest that certain compounds in soy foods hinder the absorption of these minerals disallowing the body to function as it naturally would.
- Soy-rich foods have come under the scanner for creating thyroid issues. When treated under experiment, all subjects chose to consume soy every day for thirty days and showed signs of aggravated thyroid conditions—probably the reason why no doctors or nutritionists will encourage the intake of soy on a daily basis.
- Soy products rank at the number 8 spot on the allergy list, causing severe itchiness and hives—probably the reason why most foods now have a sticker that mentions they contain soy. However, when cooked as a curry or even eaten fermented in the form of tofu, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.