October is breast cancer awareness month. Soy often has a bad reputation for the phytoestrogens it contains, which some believe can cause or increase breast cancer risk. The truth is, soy is listed by the American Institute for Cancer Research as one of the “foods that fight cancer.”
Recent research studies have found that women with breast cancer who consume soy and other plant-based foods, live longer. The phytoestrogens found in soy and human estrogen are not the same, and the body does not produce harmful cancerous products from the phytoestrogens in soy. The isoflavones found in soy can actually play a long-term protective role and may also promote bone health in the absence of human estrogen in females.
Recommendations for both survivors, and those not diagnosed with cancer, encourage 1-2 servings of soy products per day. This could be:
1 cup of soy milk
½ cup of edamame
3 ounces of tofu or tempeh
2 tablespoon of miso
In a new book soon-to-be released by Purely Planted’s founder called The Fiber Effect, the nutritional benefits of soy are outlined.
“Soy foods are heart healthy in that they contain fiber, unsaturated fat, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, and are naturally cholesterol free, trans fat free and low in saturated fat. When eaten in place of meat and dairy, soy may have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels by decreasing LDL cholesterol.”
“Soy is a complete protein (providing all nine essential amino acids), making it the perfect substitution for meat and dairy. Soy milk is the only plant-based milk that naturally has equal grams of protein compared to dairy milk (in that extra processed protein is not added). It also has similar vitamin D and calcium if it’s fortified. Calcium absorption from soy milk is similar to dairy milk — about 35 percent of the calcium is absorbed.”
While the nutritional benefits of soy may be clear, and the benefits for women reducing breast cancer risk and increasing survivorship are emerging, what about men? Another excerpt from The Fiber Effect details the benefits of soy for men.
“In men, research suggests that regular consumption of soy foods may reduce the risk of prostate cancer by as much as 30%. Contrary to popular belief, the protein and isoflavones in soy foods do not increase estrogen in men.”
Men should not fear that consuming soy or soy products will produce female attributes. On the contrary, it actually reduces the risk of prostate cancer, while being a great source of protein for the potential of building muscle!
Soy should be included as a part of everyone’s diet. Because much of the soy grown in the United States can be genetically modified and grown with pesticides, only purchase organic soy at the grocery store. Organic ensures that the soy is non-gmo AND pesticide free (non-gmo soy is no genetically modified, however it may still contain pesticides, which is why organic is best.)
Experiment with ways to add soy in your meal to reduce your risks of cancer and boost your nutrition today!
Hey everyone! My name is Alec Pienta and I am finishing the master's level Coordinated Program of Nutrition at Georgia State University, which will enable me to sit and (hopefully) pass the exam to become a Registered Dietitian. I was drawn to studying nutrition through sports and exercise in high school. Nutrition education is one of the aspects I am most passionate about. I enjoy being able to talk about nutrition guidelines, clear up misconceptions, and tell fun facts! I am open to where the world of nutrition leads me, but know that I will be happy being able to communicate nutrition information to anyone who will listen.