How Healthy is Soy?

Vegetarian and vegan diets are trendy. Whether for ethical, health, or environmental reasons: more and more people want to reduce their meat consumption or even do without animal products altogether. When looking for alternatives to meat and milk, one inevitably ends up with soy products.

Soybeans consist of almost 40 percent vegetable protein and contain magnesium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. Soy is a good alternative for people who are sensitive to milk protein or have high cholesterol. But experts warn against exaggerated expectations and even side effects from excessive consumption of soy products. Only organic products made from soy that is fermented in the traditional way are actually health-promoting in small quantities.

Soy is rich in isoflavones

Even if it makes sense to replace meat meals with soy products, there are a few things to consider: Soy products only contain calcium if it is added industrially. Many whole-grain products are more helpful. Soybeans also lack the healthy vitamin B12 found in meat. On the other hand, soy is rich in isoflavones (genistein and daidzein), phytochemicals that are similar to the female sex hormone estrogen.

However, the theory that isoflavones could help against menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes has now been refuted by scientific studies. The isoflavone daidzein can only alleviate symptoms in individual cases if it is converted to the substance equol in the intestine. Whether that happens, however, depends on the individual hereditary factors and the bacterial colonization of the intestine.

Powder or pill form is not recommended

Whether isoflavones protect against breast cancer or even increase the risk is controversial among scientists. Experts, therefore, recommend that you pay more attention to healthy body weight, plenty of exercises, and a balanced diet to prevent cancer. Infants should not be fed soy baby food because of the isoflavones, since the effects of the hormone-like plant substances on the developing organism have not yet been sufficiently researched. Isoflavones are problematic for the thyroid gland: This applies above all to soy products in powder or pill form, which contain such high concentrations of these plant substances that they can trigger hypothyroidism.

There are also current findings on the question of whether soy products are good for the heart: The cholesterol-lowering effect of a soy-rich diet is therefore primarily attributed to the associated renunciation of meat and animal fats. A soy allergy only occurs in 0.4 percent of the population, but anyone who is allergic to birch pollen usually develops a cross-allergy to soy, ranging from harmless itching, gastrointestinal problems, and skin rashes to life-threatening anaphylactic shock can.

Use organic soy products

Since more than 90 percent of global soy production consists of genetically modified beans, consumers should pay attention to the appropriate labeling. If you want to be on the safe side, you should use organic soy products – here the use of genetically modified ingredients is generally not permitted. Even if soy is certainly not a miracle cure, moderate consumption of soy products is generally considered to be good for your health – especially if you avoid unhealthy meat meals.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top