If you pay attention at all to trends in healthy eating, there’s no doubt you’ve heard about the rise of soy.
Soy is both praised for its health benefits and questioned for its side effects on a routine basis. Depending on who you ask or what source you trust, you might get an entirely different description of the role soy plays in the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle.
To cut through this clutter, we have created ATAQ’s Guide to Soy to help you understand what this nutrient is, the positive (and potentially negative) ways it can affect you and how you can incorporate it into your diet:
What is Soy?
Soy is a protein-dense nutrient that can be found in a variety of different foods and health supplements.
In addition to containing each of the nine essential amino acids our bodies need, soybeans and other soy-based foods are rich in healthy compounds like vitamin B, potassium, fiber, and magnesium.
A member of the legume family, soy and soy products can be found in fermented or unfermented varieties.
Benefits of Soy
According to well-founded research in the medical community, proper soy consumption may beneficially affect the body in numerous ways:
Increases Protein In Our Diet
As aforementioned, soy is a reliable source of plant protein that can go a long way toward fulfilling your daily protein requirements.
By increasing healthy soy intake, we can provide our body with additional quality protein sources without the high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol that hampers some animal protein sources.
Aids Heart Health
Some studies show that soy, and foods with high soy contents, can contribute to better cardiovascular function.
Through soy isoflavones, a form of plant estrogen, diets high in soy have been shown to have the potential to promote better function of blood vessels -- an essential need for a healthy heart.
Other research from the American Heart Association also indicates that soy foods are high in polyunsaturated fats, which can lead to lower cholesterol, and omega-3 fats, which may potentially contribute to a stronger cardiovascular system.
Excellent Source of Iron, Fiber and Potassium
Investigations into the effects of soy on the body show that soybeans, in particular, are an excellent source of fiber (10g per cup), which is essential for healthy digestion.
Similarly, soybeans represent an excellent source of potassium (886 mg -- far better than even bananas) and iron (9 mg), which is critical for the healthy transfer of oxygen through your blood.
Provides Other Essential Vitamins and Minerals
As we’ve discussed before, vitamins play an extremely important role in keeping our bodies healthy on a daily basis.
Soy-rich foods represent a strong source of critical vitamins such as vitamin B12 and vitamin D, as well as minerals like zinc and calcium, all of which are especially important for those who adopt a plant-based diet that might lack reliable sources of these much-needed nutrients.
What Are Potential Negative Effects of Soy?
Many people are curious about the side effects of adding soy to their diets, as the issue has received much coverage from the media. This leads many to wonder: is soy safe to eat for everyone?
The answer might be more complicated than you’d imagine.
According to sources like the Harvard School of Public Health, soy is safe to consume on a weekly basis. While research suggests that consuming soy multiple times a week is safe (and even beneficial) for most people, there is still no consensus on whether it’s safe for everyone.
Potentially negative side effects of soy include:
Increased Estrogen Production
As we discussed earlier, soy is rich in isoflavones, a form of plant estrogen, which some suspect has negative effects on the body that could outweigh its positive effects.
Chief among these is the popular rumor that soy isoflavones, as a form of (plant) estrogen, pose a risk of “feminizing” men who consume high amounts of soy.
Fortunately, 2016 studies from the National Institute of Health show there to be a weak link between plant estrogen from soy consumption and the possibility of diminishing production of human testosterone in males. However, this has done little to quiet the controversial rumors that still surround many soy products.
Increased GMO Consumption
While it comes as a surprise to some, the soybean industry is very dependent on GMO. In fact, GMO soybeans make up over 90% of the market, far outweighing any other types of crops.
Like other genetically modified crops, GMO soybeans are lower in nutrients and are exposed to more herbicides and chemicals than their non-GMO relatives. This is an important point to note, especially for those who consider soy an essential part of their plant-based diet.
While current and future research continue to look into the true effects, positive and negative, of GMO soy, it’s important to consider that most sources of soy you find will be GMO.
If you are looking for non-GMO sources of soy, tofu, tempeh and soy milk can be great options. These products will clearly be labeled “non-GMO,” so keep an eye out next time you go to your local grocery store.
What Are Some Soy-Rich Foods?
There are a multitude of protein-dense foods (fermented and unfermented) with high soy contents. Some of the most popular options include:
Does ATAQ Make Protein Supplements?
If you are looking for a great source of protein (beyond meat or soy), plant-based nutrition is an ideal way to enhance your protein intake and balance your diet for sports, wellness and health.
At ATAQ, our plant-based protein supplements are a vital part of our vegan sports nutrition. In fact, we think it’s one of the things that we do best.
Our premier protein powder uses multiple, high-quality sources of non-GMO, plant-based protein (Golden Pea Protein Isolate, Rice Protein Concentrate, Flax Protein, White Chia Seed Protein, Pumpkin Seed Protein) and delivers you the essential amino acids you need for optimum muscle growth and recovery. Our flavors are delicious as well -- chocolate, matcha and vanilla (with no added sugar or artificial sweeteners).
Additionally, ATAQ protein supplements match the amino acid makeup of popular whey protein powders without causing issues for those who suffer from lactose intolerance or other stomach issues. Packed with 25 grams of plant-based protein, our vegan powder is expertly engineered to optimize your performance and help you achieve your fitness goals.
Interested? Choose out our plant-based protein blend and learn to #kickbuttnaturally!