August 20, 2007

You Ask, I Answer: Soy Protein & Men

[Your newsletter on protein] was your best Small Bites issue to date.

One thing that I was wondering about with regard to soy protein: I've heard it is much more beneficial for women and that there are actually some negative health benefits for men who have diets high in soy protein.

I think it
had something to do with the "estrogen" similarities. Any info?

-- Fred Mursch

Brooklyn, NY

I have heard this “if I’m eating soy I may as well put on lipstick” worry from other men before.

If anything, men can actually greatly benefit from including soy protein in their diets, since their diets are generally higher in saturated fat than women’s.

Replacing some animal protein with soy-based ones provide healthier fats (tofu and tempeh provide some Omega-3 essential fatty acids) along with fiber, phytonutrients, and vitamins and minerals not found in animal meat.

Here’s the best news, though. Recent research indicates that soy protein’s isoflavones have protective properties against prostate cancer.

A study published in the Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention Journal earlier this year analyzed soy consumption and prostate cancer risk among 200 Japanese male subjects.

The results were pretty clear – those with the highest isoflavone consumption also had the highest decrease in prostate cancer risk.

It is worth adding that these men were eating nutritiously overall. They weren’t having just half a cup of vegetables a day and getting their sory by munching on soy crisps and dining on soy burgers smothered in ketchup and accompanied by French fries.

What was made very clear was that the addition of soy to an already healthy diet proved to be a valuable tool for lowering one's risk of developing prostate cancer.

Yes, very large doses of soy protein can cause breast enlargment and even a small decrease of testosterone in men, but to experience these side effects, you would have to down a handful of soy protein supplements, as it would be very hard to get such amounts in a diet that includes a few soy protein options.

Popping a cup of edamame in your mouth or ordering tofu with your pad thai does not mean you need to start thinking about going bra shopping.

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