One of the most controversial topics in nutrition is soy. It’s rich in nutrients and has been linked to health benefits such as lower blood sugar levels, improved heart health, fewer symptoms of menopause, and perhaps even a lower risk of cancer.
However, some people worry that soy-rich diets are unhealthy. Some believe that eating too much may increase the risk of breast cancer, impair thyroid function, or have feminizing effects on men.
In this article, the latest scientific evidence is reviewed to determine whether eating soy has positive or negative health effects.
Soy’s Not All Bad
Other studies suggest that soy can have important benefits, despite some studies suggesting dangers. According to the journal Cancer Research, isoflavones may slow the growth of estrogen-dependent breast cancer cells.
Isoflavones appear to encourage the body to break down estrogen more quickly. it can stimulate cancer cells to grow. Instead of lingering in the blood, estrogen molecules end up in the urine.
Several studies have shown that isoflavones can slow prostate cancer cell growth. Using soy may reduce the risk of heart disease, endometriosis and osteoporosis in women, Gillespie explains. However, before making any substantial dietary changes, consult your doctor if you think that any of these conditions apply to you.
According to a number of studies, it has the greatest effect on cholesterol levels. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that low-fat diets and soy as their main source of protein resulted in a decrease in “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL). Conversely, the “good” cholesterol levels (HDL) increased.
In addition, eating soy replaces animal products, which contain saturated fats and cholesterol, says nutritionist Mark Messina, Ph.D., author of The Simple Soybean and Your Health.
Will eating soy increase my risk of breast cancer?
Studies show that a lifelong diet rich in soy foods reduces the risk of breast cancer in women. This protective effect is less dramatic for women who eat less or who start eating soy later in life. It contains protein, isoflavones, and fiber, all of which provide health benefits.
Breast cancer was traditionally believed to be related to soy foods. However, eating a moderate amount of food does not increase the risk of breast cancer – or any other type of cancer. A moderate amount is one to two servings of whole soy foods each day, such as tofu, and edamame.
How is soy thought to increase breast cancer risk?it contains estrogens called isoflavones. There is a link between high estrogen levels and breast cancer risk. However, food sources do not contain enough isoflavones to increase the risk of breast cancer.
Isoflavone supplements, on the other hand, generally contain higher levels of isoflavones. Some studies have suggested a link between soy and isoflavone supplements and an increased risk of breast cancer in women who have a family or personal history of breast cancer or thyroid problems.
Talk with your doctor or dietitian before taking supplements.