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For Health’s Sake, Should I Eat Soy?

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should I eat soy for my health's sake Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock

We've been told eating soy-based foods lowers cholesterol, chills hot flashes, prevents breast cancer and prostate cancer, promotes weight loss, and wards off osteoporosis. That’s not the whole soy story, says the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

“While some of soy’s touted benefits are attributed to a unique characteristic: its high concentration of isoflavones, a type of plant-made estrogen (phytoestrogen) that mimics naturally-produced estrogen, many health claims about soy go far beyond the available evidence,” HSPH said.

Heart disease
In 1999, the Food and Drug Administration let companies claim that foods containing soy protein "may reduce the risk of heart disease." The claim was based on early research showing that soy protein lowered levels of low-density lipoproteins or LDL (bad) cholesterol.

A 1995 meta-analysis, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, of 38 controlled clinical trials showed that eating approximately 50 grams of soy protein a day in place of animal protein reduced total cholesterol levels by 9.3 percent, LDL cholesterol by 12.9 percent, and triglycerides by 10.5 percent.

If such reductions were sustained over time, heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular disease could be reduced by 20 percent.

The American Heart Association’s (AHA’s) nutrition committee looked at more recent soy-cholesterol research and says the results aren’t so glowing. It found eating 50 grams of soy daily—more than half the average person’s daily protein requirement— lowers LDL about 3 percent.

To get 50 grams of soy protein, a person has to eat one-and one-half pounds of tofu or drink 64 ounces of soy milk.

There’s still a silver lining. The AHA committee says that even though soy protein itself has little direct effect on cholesterol, soy foods are still good for the heart and blood vessels.

This is because they usually replace less healthful choices, like red meat while delivering plenty of polyunsaturated fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and low saturated fat.

Hot Flashes

Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

My mom, has been eating soy for quite awhile now and I do believe that it's very desirable to the body. - The Balancing Act

June 6, 2013 - 1:06pm

Good read, thanks for sharing.
My input: my oncologist told me to avoid soy (I have breast cancer).

July 19, 2012 - 10:45pm

yes soya give you lot benefit so thus green tea

July 19, 2012 - 5:36pm
EmpowHER Guest

I quite agree with you that soy foods has a minimal effect on cholesterol, that does nt however erase the fact that they are benificial in one way or the other to our system. Take for instance bloodvesels function properly when soy foods are present. I have another success story about soy foods and weightloss. Read Here http://bit.ly/LZpsg2

June 23, 2012 - 9:16am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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