Is soy healthy?
In my practice I have encountered a widely-held belief that eating tofu/soy can be unhealthy. Soy contains phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are chemically similar to the mammalian hormone estrogen. The idea is that consuming soy could cause the body to react to phytoestrogens the way it would to estrogen. In men, claims have been made that soy consumption leads to low sperm count and generalized feminization including breast development. In fact studies have not borne this out, and even consumption of very high amounts of soy or soy-based products have been shown to have no such effects on humans. Another common myth about soy is that it could promote or accelerate the growth of certain types of cancer cells that are estrogen sensitive (such as breast cancer). In fact, studies have shown that soy does not elevate the risk of estrogen-sensitive cancers but it does lower the risk for several other types of cancer. Conclusion: soy is a safe and wonderful source of complete protein. The only downside to soy, it seems, is that most of the soy now grown in the U.S. has been genetically modified. Try to buy only soybeans or soy-based products that are labeled ‘organic’ and/or ‘Non-GMO.’
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