Eat your soy, boys?

This article reads a bit like People Magazine for science, but it is interesting nonetheless. Some scientists intentionally tried to use soy to feminize healthy men just to see how much it would take. They found out that it would take concentrated extracts from soy that most people couldn’t possibly eat enough of by consuming natural soy foods.


Eat your soy, boys
A food that’s good for girls is good for guys, too

Tuesday, June 15, 2004
By Sally Squires, The Washington Post

Yes, it’s true that your wife, girlfriend or significant other has been eating a lot of soy lately, mainly to boost her female hormones. That doesn’t mean it’s bad for you, fella. Instead of pushing aside that soy milk, go ahead and pour some on your morning cereal. Dig into the soy burgers at the office cafeteria and the tofu that appears in your takeout stir-fry.

There is strong evidence that the risk of prostate cancer may be reduced by eating soy products such as these: plain soy milk and organic soy non-dairy frozen dessert.
Click photo for larger image.

Benefits for men of a diet that includes soy

It turns out that soy, at least in the doses most people will consume it in food, may be good for guys, too. A growing number of studies suggest that soy has plenty of health benefits for men — from lowering cholesterol levels to protecting against prostate cancer — and few downsides.

“Real men should eat soy,” said Kenneth Setchell, professor of pediatrics at the Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center, who has studied soy for 30 years. “Generally, men are put off by soy. It tends to be sort of a woman’s thing. That’s a great pity, because the evidence that soy protects against prostate cancer is quite strong.”

While there have been worries that men who consume large quantities of low-carb soy bread, soy cereal or other soy-filled foods may get a little too in touch with their feminine sides, research findings have generally not borne out those fears.

“Soy is a very healthy food,” said physician James Anderson, who has studied soy for 15 years at the University of Kentucky in Lexington and is convinced enough of its benefits to eat about a dozen servings per week. “It’s very safe.”

Most concerns about soy have centered around the fact that it is a rich source of isoflavones, substances that mimic the effects of the female hormone estrogen. To determine what these plant-based chemicals might do, Steven Zeisel and his colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill fed megadoses of soy to men as part of a recent National Cancer Institute study.

Nipple discharge, breast enlargement and slight decreases in testosterone occurred with the megadoses. But “we still couldn’t find anything that was serious, and we went up to doses that are probably 30 times what you could get from normal foods,” Zeisel said.

And if you stick with foods rich in soy as opposed to supplements, researchers say, there’s no evidence of harm, unless you happen to be among the one in every 1,000 people who are allergic to soy.

Not only is soy a rich source of high-quality protein, it also contains complex carbohydrates that don’t raise blood sugar as high as more processed carbohydrates. It has fiber, folic acid (a key B vitamin), healthy fat and antioxidants that help protect against cancer.

There’s also evidence that soy acts as a probiotic in some people, promoting growth of healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract that in turn produce health-promoting substances. It only takes a small amount of soy to produce health benefits. Less than a handful of soy nuts, about a fifth of a cup, provides 12 grams of protein, said Anderson, who keeps a stash near his desk for snacks.

Just resist any urge to eat raw soy. Uncooked soybeans contain a substance that inhibits trypsin, a key enzyme required for protein digestion.

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3 thoughts on “Eat your soy, boys?”

  1. That wasn’t what the experiment was about. Aside from there always being college students willing to do anything for quick cash I think some AR types would be willing to do it to clear the name of a very prominent vegan food.

  2. Yeah…

    I’d sign up for some breast enlargement! (kidding…)

    UNC’s the center of my home town, too :O) Of course, they also do a lot of egregious animal testing =/

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