Photography by Freepik.com
As it turns out, it probably doesn’t make you super hormonal.
We spoke to Wally Fry, founder of Fry’s Foods, as well as dietician Jessica Kotlowitz, to get the full story behind soy.
Foods with bad reputations: fries, cookies, deep-fried ice-cream, and anything to do with soya. While the rest are barely identifiable in their original form, the soya bean has been credited as the culprit for man boobs, weirded-out hormones, and even cancer. But it’s also a vegan staple, making up a slew of grocery items like soy milk, tofu, soy mince, and obvs, meat replacements.
Is Soya Going To Kill You?
Probably not, actually. Quite the opposite, in fact. “Soya milk is a nutrient bomb,” says dietician Kotlowitz. “It’s rich in iron and calcium.” The least processed soya foods, like miso, soya milk, tofu and edamame, are all great for your health, says dietician Susan Levin. In fact, a 2008 study found that women who consumed about a cup of soya milk a day decreased their risk of developing breast cancer by almost 30 percent. It forms the basis of Fry’s foods, a meat replacement that’s been in South Africa for tons of years. To Fry, who created the food himself in his kitchen, there’s no actual proof soya is harmful for you. “Find one proper paper, from a proper university on soy that says it’ll make you sick,” he says. “The Chinese have been eating it for centuries… it’s a plant.”
READ MORE: 7 Common Food Myths — Busted!
The Hormones Thing
Sure, experts are ok with it — but what about man-boobs? “Look at me; I’ve been eating soy for years and I’m fine!” says Fry. Kotlowitz agrees. “Soya’s got phytoestrogens which are just plant molecules that look similar to oestrogen but don’t actually act like oestrogen in the body,” she says. “They’ve done thousands of studies on it and found no negative effects on male or female hormones.” Actually, research shows soy consumption is linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer and heart disease. “Interestingly, lots of plants contain phytoestrogens so that fact that soy has been singled out is a bit weird,” says Kotlowitz. Fry agrees — “Most people in hospitals are there because they’ve been eating meat; I’ve never met anyone sick from soy,” he says.
“If you were going to avoid all phytoestrogens you would have to avoid most legumes and seeds,” says Kotlowitz. “Also, meat and dairy contain real mammalian oestrogen, which definitely affects our hormone levels.”