Soy Products Baltimore MD
Severna Park, MD
Good Food - Soy Story: The Sequel
By Dorothy Foltz-Gray
For a while, soy stumped me. My tofu turned mushy in stir-fries, and packaged tempeh looked too strange to eat. And why would I want a soy dog when I could have a nice fat knockwurst? But whenever soy diehards presented me with their favorite incarnations, I loved them—the nutty bite of lightly fried tempeh slices, the creamy sweetness of soy milk, the salty crunch of edamame. And the more soy foods I tried, the more natural they seemed in my kitchen. I even learned how to stir-fry without ending up with tofu mush.
The same revelations are sizzling in an increasing number of American kitchens. How do I know? One tip-off is the hefty display of soy products in my supermarket. Another is the result of a 2001 study by the United Soybean Board: Twenty-seven percent of Americans use soy products once a week or more, up from 15 percent in 1998. The upswing comes as Americans search for ways to eat fewer fatty meats and dairy products and learn the good news about soy’s health benefits. In 1999, for example, the Food and Drug Administration gave the nod to soy, allowing soy food packagers to claim that 25 grams of soy protein, or two servings a day (the amount found in 1 cup fresh soybeans, 1¼3 cup soy nuts, 31¼2 cups soymilk, or two soy burgers or soy dogs) lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. It’s also been credited with easing menopausal hot flashes, strengthening bones, and lowering the risk of prostate cancer.
Yet just as we’re tempted to make a permanent place on our dinner table for soy, some not-so-good news trickles in: A few studies are finding that eating soy may, in fact, be a problem if you’re at high risk for breast cancer. And in spite of its reputation as a health food, many alternative practitioners think soy should be knocked off its pedestal, claiming that along with possibly raising breast cancer risk, it interferes with thyroid function, offers only minimal relief from hot flashes, falls short on a key essential nutrient, and leaves many diners feeling gassy and bloated.
Ironically, the very source of soy’s health-promoting qualities is also what makes it problematic for women worried about breast cancer. Soy foods are high in isoflavones, a group of phytoestrogens, or plant-derived estrogens, that resemble the estrogen in our bodies, but exert a much weaker effect. Because about one- to two-thirds of all breast cancers require the presence of estrogen to grow, the theory is that women who are at risk for breast cancer place themselves in greater danger by eating estrogen-like substances.
This may be a particular worry for postmenopausal women, says Walter Willett, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. We don’t know why, he says, but when your own estrogen levels decline, phytoestrogens seem more likely to stimulate the growth of breast cancer.
Cynthia Watson, a family physician and member of the clinical faculty at the University of California at Los Angeles, cautions ...
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