Overall, soya can be a healthy choice as part of a balanced diet. It has protective effects against certain types of cancer, including breast cancer, and offers benefits such as cholesterol reduction, inflammation prevention, and improved blood sugar levels, depressive symptoms, and skin health.
Soya products are also a good replacement for dairy, as they are higher in protein than other plant-based milk and yoghurt options. When choosing soya products, opt for those fortified with calcium as a replacement for dairy products. Answers to specific questions regarding the health impacts of soya are summarised below.
Phytic acid in soya:
Phytic acids are found in nuts, grains, legumes, and soya. They can bind to minerals in the body, hindering their absorption. However, consuming a well-balanced diet with phytic acids does not lead to significant deficiencies. In fact, phytic acids have benefits such as antioxidant properties and protective effects against cancer and atherosclerosis. Fermented soya products contain fewer phytic acids compared to non-fermented products like tofu.
Soya and Thyroid Health:
While soya does not cause a slow thyroid gland, it can impair the absorption of iodine, which is essential for thyroid hormone production. It’s important to ensure sufficient iodine intake when consuming soya. Individuals using thyroid medication should consult a doctor or dietician as soya supplements and fibre-rich foods can reduce the absorption of these medications.
Other Health Benefits of Soya:
Soya consumption has been associated with protection against inflammation, lower LDL cholesterol, reduced hot flashes, improved glucose metabolism, relief from depressive symptoms, and better skin health. Consuming 25 grams of soya protein per day has shown LDL-lowering effects.
- ‘Is Soy Healthy?’ Physicians Association for Nutrition (blog), 19 January 2023. https://pan-int.org/is-soy-healthy/.