Since lately several ladies asked me what I think about soy, and especially the phytoestrogens in it, I decided to write an answer here.
You know what, as I noticed, is very characteristic of nutritional research, discoveries and guidelines? Trends. I remember how in studies from 10 or even 5 years ago, they just kept talking on and on about the benefits of soy, how good it is for everyone, how it prevents cancer and heart disease etc. And now it's suddenly the ultimate killer, worse than sugar, salt and MSG, responsible for every kind of cancer you can think of, and for premature sexual development and a variety of other nasty things.
So, while I don't mean to be disrespectful towards any of the experts, my own humble opinion is that the answer must be somewhere in between. I don't think soy is a killer. It has been widely consumed for many centuries in East Asia and I just don't find it credible that such a common crop is lethal.
I'd like to stress that I mean soy as soybean, not soy in processed, pre-packaged and frozen foods which I try to avoid like the plague altogether.
A couple of words about phytoestrogens. I know many people who are nearly hysterical about phytoestrogens and avoid soy in any form – why, phytoestrogens resemble hormones, what sane person would eat hormones with his food, they ask. Maybe the word "phytoestrogens" sounds intimidating and they just don't want to risk it, even if no studies have actually proved that eating soy in reasonable amounts causes harm. Yet these same people don't hesitate to eat meat of animals which have been given hormones to accelerate their growth. What is my point here? Be informed. Do not follow every trend and newspaper guideline and do your own research. Dig up a number of reliable review articles from well-known scientific journals.
Overall, my motto is 'everything in moderation'. If not consumed excessively, I don't see why soy can't have its place in a balanced healthy diet.
(PS: I was going to do a Show and Tell post today, but for some reason blogger won't let me upload pictures. Anyone else struggling with the same problem?)