Friday, June 12, 2009

Ignore the rumors- soy is a great food

Because the Japanese traditionally eat soy products and have low rates of breast cancer along with generally good health, we think that soy is probably a good thing. Tofu, edamame, and soymilk have all withstood the test of time.

If you like to engage in ‘nutritionism’, evaluating food on the basis of known nutrients (from Michael Pollan), you might base soy’s benefits on it being rich in protein, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium potassium, B vitamins, and healthy omega-3 fat.

Why have people heard that soy might not be great? Some people are allergic, some are intolerant, some abused it by eating it 6 times a day, but you could say the same of whole wheat. Don’t become obsessive about any one food.

Next time you order a cappuccino, try it with soymilk. Instead of letting milk’s evil saturated fat clog your arteries, you’ll be lowering your cholesterol with soy’s healthy unsaturated fats and plant sterols. Yeah, I know the taste is an acquired one.


GnomeX said...

Do you have any research handy that supports your conclusion that the saturated fat in milk "clogs the arteries?" Surely milk must be studied as a whole, as it is pretty clear that 1) sat fatty acid chain length is important with regard to effects on CVD biomarkers 2) the other potential bioactive constituents in milk that may offset or positively effect biomarker profile 3) it must be considered in the context of the rest of the diet (e.g. especially CHO intake, total calories).

I don't see a conclusive answer in the literature that would suggest non soy milk would increase CVD risk.


Joan Lyndon said...

What do you think about rice milk?? Is it evil too?? Is a table spoon of fat free milk a better alternative? I love milk in my coffee/tea and there is no way I can drink it black............Help!

Gerda Endemann ( said...

GnomeX wondered if my claim that saturated fat in milk clogs arteries was validated by any studies of whole milk, rather than just isolated milk fat components. This is a great point- foods shouldn't be judged by isolated components.

We would like to be able to look at populations with lots of heart disease and identify foods that might be responsible. The best correlation I've seen between eating a food and coronary heart disease is with milk (1993 Artaud-Wild et al.Circulation 88: 2771). The rates of death from coronary heart disease correlated amazingly well with amount of milk consumed, even in France.

I don't think that milk is evil, I love yogurt and cheese, but don't think that humans evolved to drink as much milk as Americans and Scandinavians do now.

Gerda Endemann ( said...

Joan L asked about rice milk. Rice milk is fine- even better is unsweetened almond milk. Any time you can substitute a plant food for an animal food, you’ll be adding healthy plant components that help lower blood cholesterol.

nick said...

I just found out that the Starbuck's Soy Latte calorie amount is 277 for a grande (mid size) which seems unrealitically high. Is this unecessary calories even though the nonfat latte (cows milk) is less calories. I may be better off calorie wise drinking the nonfat latte. Would you agree???

Gerda Endemann ( said...

Nick asked about soy latte versus nonfat cow's milk latte. The nonfat milk latte is lower in calories and that is a good thing. (Are there other differences in ingredients? Soy milk is pretty low calorie.)
But even if it is higher in calories, I would go with the soy latte. Soy contains healthy unsaturated fats that help lower blood cholesterol, and all sorts of other good plant substances and it's definitely superior to cow's milk.