Since I went vegan (more or less) over a year ago, my consumption of soy (or soya) beans in their various forms has skyrocketed from rarely eaten to a major part of my diet. I’m happy with that, as everything I’ve read about soy indicates that it’s one of nature’s superfoods.
A Harvard University article “Straight Talk About Soy” sums up that most studies have shown soy to be beneficial, although there are some studies that raise questions about possible negative aspects.
“Part of the uncertainty is due to the intricacy of soy’s effects on the body.
Soy isoflavones and soy protein appear to have different actions in the body based on the following factors: Type of study (animals or humans), Ethnicity, Hormone levels, and Type of soy in the study (Whole soy foods such as tofu and soybeans, processed versions like soy protein powders, or soy-based veggie burgers? Fermented or unfermented soy foods?)
Thus, there are many factors that make it difficult to construct blanket statements about the health effects of soy. That said, soy foods are rich in nutrients. Unlike some plant proteins, soy protein is considered a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot make which must be obtained from the diet.”
Nutitionfacts.org considers a study showing a possible downside of links to breast cancer, and concludes that as the study was based on use of mice, with very different bodily mechanisms to humans, it doesn’t provide any real evidence, in the face of human studies showing soy to be neutral or beneficial.
For example, a 2009 article “Soy food intake and breast cancer survival”, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, concludes that: “Among women with breast cancer, soy food consumption was significantly associated with decreased risk of death and recurrence.”
The Cleveland Clinic reports that the American Heart Association “advocates that eating foods containing soy protein to replace foods high in animal fats may prove beneficial to heart health.” Specifically
• Eating soy is a great way to increase your plant protein.
• Soy foods are naturally cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat.
• Eating soy-based foods is a great way to boost your fiber intake.
• Soy foods are a good source of polyunsaturated fat.
• Soy foods contain omega-3 fats.
• Soy foods are a great source of vitamins and minerals.
• Soy foods are a good source of phytochemicals.
What do I do?
I have soy milk for breakfast in breakfast oats or cereal, and during the day in my tea (I’m British!), and sometimes in coffee. For my evening meal I include soy about 3 or 4 times a week, as veggie burgers, veggie sausages, veggie meatballs, tofu, edamame (green soybeans) (in salads and stir-fry), and just recently I tried tempeh, a sort of compressed soy bean food.
I’ve also taken a liking to a soy product that simulates single cream. It’s got the right texture and nearly the same taste, and it’s delicious on fruit or coconut-based vegan ice cream!
Harvard University: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/soy/
NutritionFacts: “The Difference Between Alpha and Beta Receptors Explain Soy’s Benefits”: https://nutritionfacts.org/2020/03/24/the-difference-between-alpha-and-beta-receptors-explain-soys-benefits/
Journal of the American Medical Association: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19996398
The Cleveland Clinic: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/17491-soy-foods
Link to my post on “Baking Soda in my Coffee”
Link to my post on “Breakfast”