Soyfoods are the subject of several popular misconceptions. Today’s Dietitian looks at the latest research to bring the facts to light.
Soy: It’s a high-quality source of protein, containing all of the essential amino acids; it’s packed with vitamins and minerals; it has fiber (both soluble and insoluble), omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, no cholesterol, and very little saturated fat compared with meat.1 It’s been touted for reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, and some forms of cancer, and there’s clinical evidence to back up these assertions.2 But there’s also research (and media speculation) saying that soy can be detrimental to our health.
What accounts for the conflict, what are the facts, and what advice should nutrition professionals give to clients? Here’s the latest information on five common concerns about soy:
1. All soy products are made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Genetic engineering is used to introduce new characteristics to crops. Some varieties of soybeans have been modified to be herbicide tolerant, allowing farmers to use large doses of herbicides to kill weeds without damaging crops. USDA data indicate that 93% of all soybeans grown in the United States in 2013 were genetically engineered.3 According to the Soyfoods Association of North America, “Many soyfoods manufacturers use soybeans and/or ingredients from soybeans that have not been genetically engineered or that are certified organic, which by USDA organic regulations exclude genetic engineering methods. These soyfoods make a statement on the label, such as ‘organic’ or ‘made from non-GMO soybeans.’” The council states that these GMO-free products include soymilk, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and some meat alternatives and nutrition bars.
From the April 2014 issue, Vol. 16 No. 4 P. 52. Written by Judith C. Thalheimer, RD, LDN; Reprinted with permission.