Pros: Positives of Soy Consumption
CANCER: Soy consumption reduces the risk of various types of cancer, mainly the following:
At least two anticarcinogens have been identified in soy, such as isoflavones (phytoestrogen) and saponins. Tofu is the soy derivative richest in isoflavones. The soybean has the most saponins.
HEART: Soy reduces the risk of coronary thrombosis and heart attack. Regular soy consumption prevents arteriosclerosis and makes the blood more fluid, which improves blood circulation through the coronary arteries. The interruption of blood flow through the coronary arteries is the cause of heart attack.
ARTERIOSCLEROSIS: Regular soy consumption prevents the narrowing and hardening of the arteries, known as arteriosclerosis. In addition, it can help improve arterial health even when arteriosclerosis is present. Replacing animal-based proteins with soy for at least six months has increased the interior diameter of arteries affected by arteriosclerosis.
BONES: Soy increases density and prevents osteoporosis. This is due primarily to the estrogenic action of the isoflavones in soy. Women benefit particularly from soy’s remineralizing capability, particularly during menopause.
- Significant amounts (more than any other plant-based food).
- Excellent biological quality (perfect substitute for animal proteins).
- Useful in supplementing the quality of other proteins such as those from corn or wheat.
- Easily digested and absorbed.
MENOPAUSE: Soy relieves unpleasant symptoms because of its isoflavones, a vegetable hormone that partially replaces the natural hormones produced by the ovaries. Reduced estrogen production during menopause is one of the causes of the discomfort that many women experience during this life stage.
CHOLESTEROL: Soy and its derivatives contain no cholesterol, as with all plant-based foods. It is also plentiful in unsaturated fatty acids that help reduce cholesterol production within the body. Various soy components such as proteins, isoflavones, saponins, and fiber also contribute through multiple mechanisms to reducing cholesterol. Soy also lowers triglyceride levels, a type of lipid that circulates in the blood that fosters arteriosclerosis.
INFANT DIET: Soymilk can be used as a substitute for cow’s milk in infant formulas. When soymilk is the only food used, as is the case when the infant is allergic to specific milk proteins, it should be supplemented with certain essential amino acids such as methionine and with vitamin B12. Soymilk is particularly useful in cases of cow’s milk intolerance or allergy. Many cases of diarrhea and infantile eczema disappear when soymilk replaces cow’s milk.
Eating a daily serving of soy for a few months is enough to produce beneficial effects. A serving consists of:
- A dish of cooked soy
- Two glasses of soymilk (beverage).
- Thirty to fifty grams of tofu.
- A soy-based burger.
Although soy is highly nutritious and possesses extraordinary healing properties, it does have some drawbacks that must not be ignored. None of these are insoluble and should in no way discourage consumption of this super legume that may rightly be considered an essential dietary medicine.
URIC ACID: Among soy’s various proteins are nucleoproteins. One of the components of nucleoproteins, purine, is transformed into uric acid in the body. All legumes produce uric acid, with soy producing the most (380 mg/100 grams). Beef has 130 mg/100 grams (variety meat more), and milk makes none.
The total of uric acid in the blood rises after consuming soy or soy products, something that does not occur with the consumption of cow’s milk. However, this uric acid is quickly eliminated with the urine if it is not excessively acidic. Soy’s uric acid poses no risk to health, mainly if the diet is rich in vegetables that alkalize the urine and facilitate excretion. However, soy is not advised in the following cases:
- Gout (excess uric acid in the blood).
- Uric kidney stones: The less uric acid there is in the urine, the lower the risk of forming urate calculi (salts, usually calcic, of uric acid).
ANTINUTRITIVE FACTORS: All raw legumes contain toxic substances. Soy is no exception. They are known as antinutritive factors since they interfere with the absorption of other nutrients. They are the following:
- Protease inhibitors: Although they have an anticarcinogenic effect, they interfere with the digestion of proteins.
- Lectin or hemagglutinin: These proteins interfere with the absorption of minerals and vitamins, particularly A, B12, D, and E.
- Phytates, saponins, and others.
Fortunately, soy’s antinutritive factors disappear partially or entirely when it is processed in any of these ways:
- Soaking in water and cooking
- Industrial processing
This means that soy cannot be eaten raw, as can be done with most grains, fruits, and vegetables, but must always be submitted to more or less complex processes.
VERY LOW CONTENT of PROVITAMIN A and VITAMIN C: Certain strict macrobiotic vegetarian diets, in which soy and grains are the primary foods, can be deficient in provitamin A and vitamin C. Consequently, soy and its products must always be accompanied by fresh fruits and vegetables that are rich in provitamin A (carotene) and vitamin C. This vitamin facilitates iron absorption in soy, among other functions.
LACK OF VITAMIN B12: Soy lacks this vitamin, as with all vegetable foods. Strict vegetarian diets based on soy may theoretically produce a vitamin B12 deficiency, and it is well to bear this in mind. Fortunately, some soy products are supplemented with this vitamin.
ALLERGIES: Eating soy seldom produces allergies, and it is often used in anti-allergic diets. However, the dust from soybeans provokes severe respiratory allergies in sensitive individuals, which is common in those close to ports or industries where soy is transported or handled.
FLATULENCE: Soybeans and legumes contain an oligosaccharide type of hydrocarbon in their skin that provokes digestive flatulence. Soaking and cooking eliminate most of this.
GENETICALLY ENGINEERED SOY: Although no known health problems exist, their cultivation may threaten the environment.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 2. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 272, 273, 274. Print.