Anti-Soy Fiction

I just read a citizen’s petition to FDA by Gail Elbek calling for the removal of soy because of antinutrients (trypsin inhibitors and phytates) and endocrine disruptors. Gave me a bit of a laugh, but I expect it will scare a lot of unwitting people.

The outrageous claims Ms. Elbek makes are not grounded in any science. Soy phytotoxicity is going to “kill our children”? Please. I’m not about to throw out my soy milk, tofu and soy sauce. What’s next? Spinach. Spinach contains a lot of phytates. Many raw foods like raw soybeans contain all sorts of anti-nutrients, but that’s why we dehull, cook, or ferment these raw foods. Most anti-nutrients are eliminated just by the processing.

There is a point to be made about high amounts of concentrated phytoestrogens (soy isoflavones) in a few dietary supplements, which are often marketed to women as natural hormonal therapy. These are basically drugs of which we don’t know enough about. The research is still out on whether or not they’re beneficial or if they can do harm.

But, again, there’s really not really anything raise eyebrows regarding levels of isoflavones in tofu or other soy products. The low levels of isoflavones that are in them are probably even good for you. So even if we ever did offer a soy protein shake, I don’t think I’d be too worried. We mustn’t forget that there have been more than 40 human clinical studies on soy protein’s health benefits. Not to mention that an entire, but relatively insignificant, country called China pretty much subsists on soy.

Published by David Despain, MS, CFS

David is a science and health writer living on Long Island, New York. He's written for a variety of publications including Scientific American, Outside Online, the American Society for Nutrition's (ASN) Nutrition Notes Daily, and Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) Food Technology magazine and Live! blog. He's also covered new findings reported at scientific meetings including Experimental Biology, AAAS, AOCS, CASW, Sigma Xi, IFT, and others on his personal blog "Evolving Health." David is also an active member of organizations including the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Society for Nutrition, the Institute of Food Technologists, and the National Audubon Society. David has a master's degree in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, and a bachelor's degree in English from University of Illinois at Springfield. He also earned his Certified Food Scientist credential from the Institute of Food Technologists.

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