Soy milk and other soy products, including tofu, miso, tempeh, edamame, and the soybeans themselves, are high in such nutrients as fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, protein, and zinc.
Soybeans naturally contain a class of phytoestrogens called isoflavones. When we hear the word “estrogen” in the word “phytoestrogens,” we may assume that means soy has estrogen-like effects. Not necessarily. Estrogen has positive effects in some tissues and potentially negative effects in others. For example, high levels of estrogen can be good for the bones but can increase the likelihood of developing breast cancer. Ideally, we’d like what’s called a “selective estrogen receptor modulator” in our body that would have proestrogenic effects in some tissues and antiestrogenic effects in others, which is what soy phytoestrogens appear to be. Soy seems to lower breast cancer risk, an antiestrogenic effect, but can also help reduce menopausal hot-flash symptoms, a proestrogenic effect.
What about soy and breast cancer? Women diagnosed with breast cancer who eat the most soy appear to live significantly longer and with a significantly lower risk of breast cancer recurrence than those who eat less. The quantity of phytoestrogens found in just one cup of soy milk may reduce the risk of breast cancer returning by 25 percent. The improvement in survival for those eating more soy foods was found both in women whose tumors were responsive to estrogen and those whose tumors were not, as well as both young women and older women.
Soy consumption has also been shown to benefit our kidneys, which appear to handle plant protein very differently from animal protein. Within hours of eating meat, our kidneys rev up into hyperfiltration mode. But, an equivalent amount of plant protein causes virtually no noticeable stress on the kidneys.
The information on this page has been compiled from Dr. Greger’s research. Sources for each video listed can be found by going to the video’s page and clicking on the Sources Cited tab. References may also be found at the back of his books.
Image Credit: Jupiterimages / Thinkstock. This image has been modified.
Popular Videos for Soy Milk
All Videos for Soy Milk
Dietary Approach to Naturally Treating Menopause Symptoms
Specific foods have been shown in randomized controlled trials to improve symptoms like hot flashes.
Food for Hair Growth
Hot peppers, soy foods, and pumpkin seeds may help with hair loss.
The Healthiest Natural Source of Iodine
How much nori, dulse, or arame approximate the recommended daily allowance for iodine?
Dairy and Cancer
How do we explain the increased risk of prostate cancer but the decreased risk of colon cancer associated with dairy consumption?
How the Dairy Industry Designs Misleading Studies
How the meat and dairy industries design studies showing their products have neutral or even beneficial effects on cholesterol and inflammation.
Does Adding Milk Block the Benefits of Coffee?
How to choose the healthiest coffee, and the effects of adding milk vs. soymilk.
Should Women with Fibroids Avoid Soy?
When it comes to uterine fibroids, is soy harmful, harmless, or helpful?
How to Convert Into an Equol Producer
Certain gut bacteria can supercharge the benefits of soy foods, resulting in even more bone protection, better control of menopausal symptoms, and lower prostate cancer risk, but how can we foster the growth of these good bacteria?
Best Foods to Avoid for Eczema
Randomized, double-blind, controlled trials suggest that excluding certain foods, such as eggs and chicken, can significantly improve atopic dermatitis.
Dietary Cure for Hidradenitis Suppurativa
What is the role of dairy- and yeast-exclusion diets on arresting and reversing an inflammatory autoimmune disease?