Demystifying soy

What is it?

Soy contains complete proteins of a quality comparable to that of meat. Soy and its derivatives are rich in dietary fiber, isoflavones, vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium and zinc and contains good fats, such as omega-3s. Therefore, soy is a very interesting food to include in a balanced and varied diet. However, it is best to consume these products in their whole, fresh, or fermented form (tofu, tempeh, bean / soybean) rather than as a processed by-product or supplement. In recent years, soy has been a legume that has generated a lot of talk! Here are two points that deserve to be demystified:

Are soybeans genetically modified (GM)?

In Canada, soybeans are one of the main GM crops, however the vast majority of this soybeans are intended for animal consumption, that is to say a very small proportion of GM soy ends up on our plate and their traces are found more in certain processed products. Thus, GM soy is not found in fresh soy foods, such as tofu, tempeh or edamame, for example. Although there is no evidence to date that GMOs can harm our health, it is well known that this cultivation has a detrimental effect on the environment and harms the biodiversity of ecosystems. Therefore, to limit your consumption of GM products, it is better to reduce your consumption of processed products, then to choose an organic product if you consume these products.

Does soy influence our hormones?

Soy contains isoflavones, or phytoestrogens, plant compounds that resemble estrogen but do not have the same ability to work in the body as this hormone. In women, the isoflavones in soy may help reduce hot flashes that appear during menopause and may have a protective effect in some premenopausal women against breast cancer. In men, it was shown in a metanalysis in 2010 that the consumption of soy or isoflavones would not influence the level of male sex hormones.

Note that there are contraindications to the consumption of soy for people on medication for hypothyroidism, and the consumption of soy supplements and isoflavones or phytoestrogens in women who have previously had breast cancer. We invite you to consult a healthcare professional if this concerns you.

Here are some soy products to include in your diet to vary your protein sources:

  • Tofu, dessert tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Textured soy protein
  • Beans / soybeans or edamame
  • Soy beverage
  • Miso

For more information, see the following sources:

1) Extenso (2014). Le soya peut prévenir le cancer du sein. : //

2) Extenso (2014). Manger trop de soya peut diminuer la testostérone. : //

3) Passeportsanté. (2016). Tout savoir sur le soja ou soya dans l’alimentation. //

4) Protégez-vous. (2016) Le soya : Démêler le vrai et le faux. //

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