Soy is a nutrient-dense food and is a treasure-trove of beneficial isoflavones. However, many people question its effectiveness, as they believe in a high soybean diet to cause breast cancer, reduce the synthesis of testosterone in males, and hinder brain development in babies.
This article shares both pros and cons of using soy-based on scientific evidence to help you decide if its benefits weigh more than its concerns or not.
Why Should You Use Soybeans?
Here are a few of the many benefits you can get from using soy in your meals.
1. High Nutritional Content
There are many derivative forms of soy. Soybeans brims with large amounts of proteins, isoflavones, and essential amino acids. In addition, it contains fiber, healthy fats, and many beneficial vitamins and minerals.
Soybeans, Tofu, Edamame, soy yogurt, and soymilk are some popular low processed products used by people. All of them are a good source of polyphenols, which is a key antioxidant to prevent heart disease and promote quick healing.
Every 100 grams of soybeans contain 90-134 grams of isoflavones. Phytoestrogens, a type of isoflavone, works well in binding and activating the estrogen receptors.
2. Fertility Super Food
Some researchers support soybeans for improving fertility. In one study, those women who had a soy-rich diet with their fertility treatment have 1.3-1.8 greater chances of getting pregnant than ones who take fewer soy isoflavones. However, note that soy does not support fertility issues in men.
Soy beans supporting fertility is a controversial topic. According to a study, consuming soy isoflavones daily (100 mg) can show significant changes in the ovarian and reproductive cycle. Whereas, another study supports the intake of soy isoflavones less than 10 mg daily. Consuming it above 40 mg may raise the risk of fertility issues by 13%, says the research.
However, many recent researches regard 10-25 mg of soy isoflavones per day as safe for fertility. You can get this quantity of soy isoflavones from one to four servings of soy every day.
3. Strengthens Bones
Bones tend to get weak during menopause. Osteoporosis causes weaker and brittle bones due to the low level of estrogen in menopause.
The study gives evidence of using 40-110 mg soybeans daily to increase bone density and improve biomarkers of bone loss during menopause. You can get the same amount by eating 140-440 grams of tofu every day.
4. Lowers Blood Sugar
Many randomized control studies and reviews claim soy isoflavones to slightly help in controlling insulin and sugar levels in the menopause.
Soy isoflavones also bring a significant change in the body’s response to insulin resistance, reducing the risk of type II diabetes.
There are not enough studies to support soybeans for regulating sugar levels in type II diabetic, metabolic syndrome, and healthy people. Metabolic syndrome, apart from only relying on blood sugar levels, also depends on cholesterol and blood pressure.
Concerns Raised for the Use of Soybeans
Despite the fact, soy and its products are highly used by people for decades; some people fear including them in their diet because of the following reasons.
- Even though soy isoflavones are structurally a bit similar to estrogen, their functions differ.
- Misinterpret to increase the risk of breast and endometrial cancer.
- Soybeans contain some anti-nutrient compounds, which makes absorption of certain nutrients difficult. However, they can be reduced by fermentation, boiling, and many other processes.
- Thought to cause sexual, thyroid, poor brain, and immune development in babies. Research has not yet found such long-term effects of eating soybeans.
- Some studies suggest its anti-nutrient content can cause inflammation and digestive issues. However, there is a need for more clinical studies to support it.
- GMO soybeans contain herbicides and are less beneficial than organic soybeans and products.
The Bottom Line
Soybeans, tofu, edamame, and its fermented foods are a smart choice to get soy benefits than from its highly processed version. Soy is beneficial to relieve menopause symptoms, lower cholesterol, and reduce blood sugar levels. There is a need for more research to uplift the concerns regarding soy.