Soy – Friend or Foe?

At first glance, soy beans (steamed or boiled) seem like nature’s perfect food. A half-cup serving offers 127 calories, 5.8 g fat (0.7 g saturated), 10 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 11 g protein, 130 g calcium, 485 g potassium, and 13 g sodium.1 Soy contains the largest amounts of isoflavones or phytoestrogens of any plant food and they have been found to promote healthy blood sugar levels, weight, and body composition, while lowering unhealthy triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol.2 However, there are conflicting reports on whether or not soy may cause uterine or breast cancer, disrupt hormonal balance, or impact prostate health. Further studies are needed to fully understand the role of soy and its properties.

Beyond the concern for phytoestrogens, some are worried about health risks linked to GMO (genetically modified organisms)—some producers genetically modify soy crops to make them resistant to the herbicide glyphosate.3 Making plants resistant to glyphosate means they won’t die when sprayed with this chemical, used to ward off weeds. However, it also means there may be unhealthy residue buildup on the soy plant, which eventually gets turned into our food. Therefore, a study was conducted to determine if organically grown, non-GMO soy was significantly healthier than GMO soy grown with the use of glyphosate. The authors concluded that the organic/non-GMO soy had the best nutritional profile, while the GMO soy grown with the use of glyphosate had high levels of the chemical throughout the plant product.

So, what’s a consumer to do? The best advice we can give as dietitians and health consultants is to always eat a variety of foods and choose organically grown produce to get the best nutrition while minimizing unwanted chemicals. In moderation, there’s no evidence that soy will negatively impact your health. Enjoy soft tofu mixed into smoothies or mashed potatoes; firm tofu cut into strips and sautéed with mixed vegetables; fermented soy, like tempeh to benefit from the probiotics; or round out a meal of California Rolls (made with brown rice) with edamame.

– True Health Clinical Health Consultant Stephanie Turkel, MS, RDN, LD


For more information on nutrition for exercise and other lifestyle tips, contact True Health Diagnostics at 877-443-5227 to set up an appointment with a Clinical Health Consultant.

1. Calories in Edamame (Green Soybeans), Boiled without Salt Added & Drained | Nutrition, Carbohydrate and Calorie Counter. Calorie King, 2016. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.

2. C.R. Cederroth, S. Nef. Soy, phytoestrogens and metabolism: a review. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology. 304 (2009) 30-42. T. BØhn, M. Cuhra, et al. Compositional differences in soybeans on the market: Glyphosate accumulates in Roundup Ready GM soybeans. Food Chemistry. 153 (2014) 207-215

All True Health Diagnostics materials are provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on contents of this information. Readers should always consult the appropriate health professional on any matters related to their health.