October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I thought this is the right time to get the right answer to this question. For almost as long as I can remember, nuritionists have urged us to replace red meat with soy. In China its called the meat without bones and its nutritional profile- high in protein yet low in cholesterol- certainly seemed to justify its place in the good food hall of fame.
But within recent years there have been concerns that the estrogen-like compounds in soy, called phytoestrogens, can trigger estrogen receptors in the breast and increase risk of breast cancer. There have been a number of dueling studies, some finding an increased incidence of cancer while others that say it actually can lower risk. These dueling yes it does no its doesn’t studies may be entertaining for researchers, but for women who are trying to stay healthy, the back and forthing is well, upseting.
At this point in time ( and it could change with the next study) doctors generally advise that soy in moderate amounts will not cause problems in a well rounded diet. But its not that easy.
Soy is so widely used and in so many forms its hard to judge how much soy you are actually eating everyday. In addition to the obvious soy sauce and tofu, soy in the form of flour is added to commercial breads, crackers, cookies, even frozen prepared meals. Soy milk lates are a standard at Starbucks and whole shelves at Whole Foods are devoted to soy cheese, soy yogurt, soy pepperoni, soy mayonaise and veggie burgers. Soy is routinely used in Kosher food products and don’t forget soy ice creams like Tofutti.
The multiple food uses of soy can lead to troubling levels of daily soy intake. For me the takeaway is to monitor how much soy I am actually eating/using. I read packges of bread and crackers, switched to almond milk lattes and limit my beloved edameme to a once a week treat. And I still use my favorite soy entiched moisturizer where it acts as an antioxidant and reduced inflammation.
Are you concerned about soy? Have you changed your eating habits to reduce soy exposure?