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Soy and Women's Health Information

The Truth About Soy and Women's Health: Is It Good or Bad for You?

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Soy and women’s health regularly make their way into the headlines.  Every now and again, there is a new study, or the media likes to remind us of information that has already been published.  While some of this data indicates that products made from this ingredient are great for us, others suggest there are unwanted aspects as well.

How do we know what to believe about soy and women’s health?  Should it be considered a safe and healthy part of a regular diet?  Should it be avoided or restricted? 

Soy Products at Your Supermarket

Though soy has been a part of traditional Asian cuisine for thousands of years, it has become commonplace in the Western world for only around 60 years or so.  Still, since that time, our supermarkets have stocked their shelves with these products.  This is particularly true of meat and dairy alternatives, though it also includes many other options.  Among the most common include:

  • Soy milk
  • Soy burgers
  • Tofu
  • Miso
  • Soy sauce
  • Tempeh

While our grocery stores add a growing number of these items to their offerings, the link between soy and women’s health becomes ever cloudier.

What to Believe About Soy and Women’s Health?

Overall, a diet including soy on a regular basis has been linked with a reduced heart disease risk when compared to other diets.  It’s also known that this food contains protein, B-vitamins, unsaturated fatty acids, iron, fiber, calcium and zinc.  However, the area where we’re not sure whether or not there should be concerned with soy and women’s health has to do with hormones.

There has been a growing fear that consuming soy products can be disruptive to a healthy hormone balance.  This controversy has to do with the high isoflavones content that is unique to this food.  Isoflavones have properties comparable to estrogen, the main female hormone.  It can act like this hormone and bind to estrogen receptors.  As excess estrogen can contribute to some kinds of breast cancer growth, it’s no wonder there have been concerns about soy and women’s health.

That said, it’s important to note that despite the studies conducted on the subject, scientists have yet to actually directly link isoflavones to cancer risk.  At the same time, there may be added benefit to soy and women’s health as isoflavones are known to help protect against certain other cancers. 

Therefore, most doctors simply recommend that if you eat soy-based products, you don’t go overboard with them.  As with all other foods, they have benefits and drawbacks, so by moderating intake, you can balance the good with the bad in soy and women’s health until more is known.