Soy…Good or Bad?

There is a lot of debate about whether soy is good or bad for you.  Several studies have reported that soy may increase the risk of breast cancer, in particular breast cancer in women.  As a vegetarian (and a woman), I eat my fair share of soy and am hoping that many of those often insecure studies truly are insecure in their results.

I don’t find myself too worried about such studies because there are numerous other studies that show soy is actually beneficial to one’s health and may even decrease the risk of cancer.  One statistic I came across actually showed that woman who eat soy as children have a 60% less change of developing breast cancer. Other studies have shown that soy may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.  A study done by the Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland in California found that soy foods contain a component that can induce the death of cells, such as cancerous, mutant ones.  This component may not only help to prevent colon cancer, but it may actually be harnessed for future use in order fight colon cancer. The continuous debate over whether soy causes cancer or prevents cancer will probably go on for quite some time.  However, one thing that isn’t up for debate is the fact that soy foods are generally high in protein, fiber, calcium, potassium, and B vitamins– all essential parts of a healthy diet. advises that “if you’re a healthy woman with no history of breast cancer or thyroid disease, soy can be part of a balanced diet.”

However, not all soy should necessarily be treated equally.  As quoted in, Maria Romano, RD, an oncology dietitian at Montefiore-Einstein Center for Cancer Care in New York City says soy is most healthful when eaten in its most natural forms, and one should choose something like edamame or tofu over refined items.

While I generally follow this rule of sticking to minimally processed soy foods like tempeh and edamame, I do occasionally enjoy a soy-based meat substitute.  I enjoy eating and cooking with meat substitutes because of their chewy texture and high protein content, and I think the occasional meat substitute-based meal is okay.  I try to minimize these meals to once a week at most, but when I do utilize meat substitutes, I fully enjoy the creations I make.

There are tons and tons of meat substitutes and other soy products on the market, and not all of them can be counted on to make a tasty meal.  Some of them taste, well, like plastic imitations of some obscure food (definitely not anything like meat), but others prove to be quite tasty.  If you’re looking for a meat substitute to actually taste like the meat you may be replacing in a meal, then you may be searching for quite some time.  Although most products don’t actually taste like meat, their meat-like texture allows them to be suitable replacements for chicken/steak in recipes, and they are great additions for vegetable stir frys and sautees.

A few weeks ago I did a couple posts about tofu (see What to Do With Tofu and More on Tofu).  In my next few posts, I’ll be highlighting some of my other favorite soy products/brands and giving a few simple ideas of what to do with these products.

Are you a frequent user of soy products?

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  • Reply
    December 9, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Nope -I’m allergic.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    December 9, 2009 at 11:17 am

    I am torn about Soy because you hear so many conflicting reports…I don’t go out of my way to avoid it and I don’t go out of my way to include it either lol

  • Reply
    December 9, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Its a big debate of course. I am not vegan, I eat Fish of all kinds, chicken, turkey, eggs and the like, but I do eat soy. I admit that sometimes I eat too much, and other weeks I have none. Randomness at best.
    Interestingly though there is a recent study out now that may suggest soy is actually beneficial afterall. I believe it may be discussed on ABC nightly news, you may want to look out for it on news stations.

  • Reply
    The Candid RD
    December 9, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Check out this latest article I found
    I usually advise clients that soy is great, but don’t take it in supplemental form (too much of anything isn’t good, even things that are good for you!).

    I like soymilk and some soy bars (SOYJOY), but tofu and tempeh aren’t good for me because they give me major gas, which is NO FUN! It’s actually really unfortunate, because I like both tempeh and tofu. Oh well, I can get my phytonutrients elsewhere!

  • Reply
    December 9, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    I pretty much think soy is poison and am fairly horrified at people who feed it to their children, particularly their male children. Descriptions of the problems with soy used to be the province of alterative health types like Mercola. Now, however, it’s receiving more and more attention from mainstream media. Even Men’s Health magazine did a huge story that asked if soy was the most dangerous food for men. Given the estrogenic properties of soy and its potential to affect everything from fetal development to early onset of female puberty to development of erectile dysfunction and enlarged male breast tissue, I just can’t see a single reason to consume this frankenfood.

  • Reply
    Devan G Newman
    December 9, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    i am a frequent user of soy.
    the “bad” stories of soy were started by the dairy companies..

  • Reply
    December 9, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Wonderful information — I am enjoying your blog SO much. I love that it’s so factual and science and research-based. I appreciate the work you put in to your writing!

    I do eat soy, but probably only 1-2 times a week and typically in the form of Morning Star products, tofu, or edamame : )

    Thank you!

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  • Reply
    Simply Life
    December 9, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    I order tofu when we go out but otherwise I don’t have soy very often because my husband doesn’t like it! This is great to know though!

  • Reply
    December 9, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    I avoid soy for the most part- but I do like an occasional soy cappuccino or miso soup, edamame, etc. Soy consumed for me, is in its most natural state. I don’t go out and buy soy milk much- but I prefer it in my smoothies at coffee shops and cafes and such. Moderationn for me.

    But as always Grace, I love your writing and facts tooo. 🙂 I’m gonna e-mail you with my CIA reading list. So far, I’ve really enjoyed all the books I’ve read so far. Pretty restaurant oriented, but its almost like reading fiction. haha.

  • Reply
    Jack McDonald
    December 9, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Are you the that posted the following on the nytimes website today in response to the article about having one’s head shaved after cancer/chemo (referencing your Dad):”I think cancer makes you appreciate your life a lot more, and by the end, what you look like goes out the window, and how you feel becomes much, much more important”?. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. AFter years of dealing with a radical prostatectomy for cancer, and radiation and hormone shots when it still won’t go away, you have made me understand. Why could I not see it? Thank you.

  • Reply
    December 9, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    I hate soy. Sorry…I’m an Asian who hates tofu.
    As for this soy controversy, my only opinion I guess is not to overdo it. Soy can be good for you, but not if you eat it in excess, or in processed form.

  • Reply
    December 10, 2009 at 1:49 am

    Yes, I’m a frequent user of soy! I don’t think I over eat soy. I just listen to my body, I’ve never felt sick when I have soy products. Thanks for sharing such wonderful info:)

  • Reply
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    December 11, 2009 at 7:24 am

    Great topic and definitely controversial. I’m not a vegetarian, but a “flexitarian” haha – and I enjoy a variety. Personally, I prefer chicken, but I do eat tofu and want to try tempeh…it’s expensive though. But I really like Tofurkey! Has anyone tried? Great for sandwiches – I’m sure it’s ‘soyed-out’! but whatevs. Honestly, everything gives me a poor stomach so I wouldn’t know if it’s the soy or not…

    • Reply
      Molly Ringworm
      January 4, 2010 at 9:26 pm

      eatmovelove, 8oz of organic tempeh is 1.69 at Trader Joe’s. Compared to 8oz of fish or lean meats (the good quality stuff, not the stuff that will kill you)?? It works great as a ground meat substitute in a spaghetti sauce, or fried on a sandwich with some sprouts!

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  • Reply
    January 9, 2010 at 7:13 am

    Good points, I think I will definitely subscribe! I’ll go and read some more! What do you see the future of this being?

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Viva Bergstrom
    November 14, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Meat,fish and dairy are primary protein food sources as well as soybeans. ..

    Please do go look at our favorite blog page

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