Ask a dozen people how they feel about soy and you’ll likely get a dozen different answers. Soy and its by-products (such as tofu, tempeh, and soy milk) are among the most polarizing foods around. From the hallowed halls of academia to the chatter of internet discussion boards, debate has raged for years about their health effects.

Part of the trouble in setting the record straight on this humble bean has to do with the unique challenges of researching it. Certain variables in soy studies can dramatically affect their results, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Soy’s plant estrogens, which are known as isoflavones, and soy proteins may function differently, depending on the state of people’s hormones, the type of food consumed, and whether the studies are conducted on animals or humans.

Even so, a solid body of evidence shows that soy foods are not only unlikely to cause harm, they’re actually good for you. The American Cancer Society says soy foods are healthy and safe, while the American Heart Association recommends them for their potential to lower heart disease risk. Research has linked soy with reduced cholesterol, and an article from the July 2020 Journal of Geriatric Cardiology associated it with healthier blood pressure levels. A diet that includes soy may even help you maintain a healthy weight, research suggests. Plus, many soy foods are loaded with protein, calcium, magnesium, and other important nutrients.

Are you wondering whether you should dive into a bowl of edamame or stay far, far away? Read on for seven soy myths you can stop believing.

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