A soybean – a rather simple legume originating
from Eastern Asia thousands of years ago, has, in one form or another, beaned its way
into the pantries of almost every household. Soybeans are nutritionally one of the best
plant crops discovered, containing high amounts of calcium, potassium, fiber, vitamin c, folic
acid, and healthy polyunsaturated fats. But these legumes are best known for its high
protein content, where at 36 grams of protein in a serving, beats out all other plants.
It’s even been called a superfood, with links to reducing heart disease risk, prostate cancer,
osteoporosis, and even Alzheimer’s. Soy is now popular as an alternative for common
food products such as burgers, pasta, and milk. But it wasn’t always popular. It made
its US debut in the 1700s and was fed exclusively to animals. Not until the 1920s did we started
eating it ourselves. Today, soy is the second most popular crop in the US, surpassing other
big names such as wheat, cotton, and rice. It was all fine and dandy for this little
super food up until new studies began making some really serious claims. Claims that made
soy seem completely evil. People got scared, pitchforks went up, and soy’s popularity is
in disarray. But what exactly are the studies saying? Should
we really fear a little legume? According to the studies, a reason to avoid soy is due
to soy’s high concentration of isoflavones, which in high doses, can cause the development
of cancerous cells. Quite a serious problem if true, however, other studies showed that
isoflavones had no correlation to cancer cells at all, but in fact, it might prevent cancer
cell development. And women, it might even reduce menopausal symptoms as well. But men,
be careful since a study showed lower testosterone levels in mice after ingesting 20 milligrams
per kilogram of these evil isoflavones! Wait! Not soy fast. How much isoflavone is that
exactly? In human levels, that’s equivalent to an unreal 57 cups of soymilk per day! A
more practical study found zero testosterone changes when subjects consumed the equivalent
of 3 cups of soymilk per day. But there’s more claims against soy. In another
case, claims were made that soy can interfere with thyroid function because soy contains
goitrogens, a substance that leeches iodine away from thyroid hormones. Not good at all.
But again, studies show that even subjects with low iodine levels showed zero changes
in their thyroid from eating soy. In fact, the American Thyroid Association reviewed
14 studies about this problem and concluded that there is “little evidence” of soy negatively
impacting thyroid function. But perhaps the biggest soy controversy is
genetic modification. A staggering 93% of all soybeans in the US and 79% in the WORLD
are genetically modified. Although genetic modification, aka GMO, is a colossal topic
that can’t be covered in this video alone, it can be said that, as far as research goes,
there is no sign that GMO soy will cause harmful effects to human health. This stance, however,
can change in the future if the research shows otherwise. Of course, we also don’t know how
the substances, such as pesticides, used on GMO crops might affect our health.
Now with all these studies analyzed, what’s the verdict? Should we still eat soy? Indications
are that moderate consumption should be okay. There’s no strong evidence showing that soy
will cause cancer, lower testosterone, or mess up your thyroid. Also, if you cook or
ferment the beans, a lot of these supposedly dangerous toxins are actually eliminated in
the process. Oh, and for anti-GMO peeps, stick with the organic stuff.
Whether you’re going to eat soy or not from now on, it won’t change the fact that this
small bean is jam packed with nutrients. The title of “super food” doesn’t seem too far-fetched.
What are your thoughts on soy? Curious about any other health and nutrition topics? Feel
free to share your thoughts on the comment section below!