Can I Eat Too Much Soy?

“It’s possible. As with much of life, moderation is a good idea,” advises Kimberly Gomer, Director of Nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa.

To be sure, many studies on soy-eating populations in Asia have found links between their diets and reduced risk of various diseases, including heart disease and cancers of the breast and prostate.

“But, as usual, America tends to go overboard, thinking that if some is good, a lot more must be better,” says Kimberly. “The fact is: people in Japan consume an average of about 8 to 9 grams of soy protein a day. But our own FDA recommends 25 grams daily. That’s a big difference.”

The country of Israel has become so concerned about its citizens consuming too much soy that its Health Ministry recently issued a recommendation that people eat soy products only in moderation pending additional studies in the coming years that reach firm conclusions on whether too much soy promotes cancers, harms male fertility, or has other harmful effects.

Can I eat too much soy?

Bottom Line: Go ahead and enjoy soybeans and soy-rich whole foods like soymilk and tofu. They may help improve HDL “good” cholesterol levels and lower total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, blood sugar, and insulin levels. With long-term use, they may also lower cancer risk. Women with a past history of breast cancer should consult their physicians regarding the controversies of soy use.

Keep in mind, too, that the health-promoting chemicals in soybeans that have gotten so much attention lately – the isoflavones – are plentiful in all beans: pinto beans, black beans, lentils, red beans, you name it. And these beans generally derive a mere three to nine percent of their calories from fat. Soybeans, by contrast, are 37% fat – and therefore more likely to promote weight gain.

But all beans, including soybeans, are full of nutritional riches – and are a very healthy, protein-packed alternative to meat or poultry. Instead of increasing cholesterol, like animal protein, beans lower it.

Can I eat too much soy protein powder?

Yes.  Steer clear of richly concentrated soy products, like soy protein isolate, a beverage powder packed with isoflavones – and far from moderate in its amounts of soy protein. “Products like these are so concentrated that they’re almost pharmaceutical,” warns Kimberly. “I’d much rather see people eating real food. With food, you’ll get plenty of isoflavones and other nutrients – but not too much.”

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