January 24, 2022

Introduction :

Soya bean has, for a long, been heralded as a valuable source of complete nutrition, so much so that not only the bean but the use of its derivatives is also soaring. 

To date, the popular soy products/derivatives in the market are:

  • Whole Soybean
  • Soy Chunks
  • Soy milk
  • Soy sauce
  • Tofu
  • Edamame
  • Miso
  • Tempeh
  • Soya nuts

The hype about soy has increased to such an extent that it is now being used as a substitute for meat. Soy is a key product in plant-based meat, commonly known as ‘mock meat’ or ‘fake meat’. Textured soy protein acts as a meat extender and hence, is extensively used for the production of meat alternatives.

But are the beneficial health claims for this so-called ‘protein-rich, cholesterol-lowering, heart disease and breast cancer-preventing, superfood’ true? Well, not all!

Dangers of Soy :

  • Anti-nutrients: Although soy is packed with nutrients, these are of little use for your body because of the presence of ‘antinutrients’. Antinutrients are plant compounds that reduce the body's ability to absorb essential nutrients. Soya bean is one such food commodity that contains almost all the antinutrients there are. From oxalates, phytates, lectins, protease inhibitors, saponins, and glyphosates to the deadly mould toxins, each of them is present in soy.

These antinutrient compounds are linked with several negative health impacts, viz.,

  • Affects the availability of nutrients (Iron, Zinc, Calcium, Copper)
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances (Food poisoning, Gas, Abdominal pain, Diarrhoea, etc).
  • Undesirable organoleptic properties
  • Hormonal imbalances in both men and women
  • Potent Allergen: Soy is an allergenic food and some individuals are allergic to soy and its derivatives. Hence, soy foods require labelling when used as an ingredient in compound foods.
  • Phytoestrogen: Phytoestrogen is a compound naturally present in plant-based foods and abundantly in soy. It is known to have feminizing effects on men. In a case report on gynecomastia (enlargement of breasts in men) associated with soy consumption, it was noted that the man’s breast tenderness resolved upon stopping the consumption of soy.
  • Genetically modified organisms (GMOs): GMOs are organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) whose genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination. Foods produced from or using GM organisms are often referred to as GM foods 1. Some soy varieties in the market are genetically modified, further questioning their use. 

More than 85% of soy grown comes from seeds, the DNA of which has been altered for increasing higher yields, and this crop plays a major role in countless processed foodstuffs from soda and salad dressing to bread.

References :

Team iThrive

Collection of iThrive's Nutrition teams posts

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.