Soy and Your Health


Soy is one of the most versatile foods. Edamame, soybeans, soy sauce, tofu, miso soup and most varieties of veggie burgers and vegan meat substitutes contain soy. Soy is characterized by an accommodating texture and a mild flavor that easily blends with a variety of spices. It is becoming more popular as western culture adopts eastern cuisine and also as more and more people are either becoming vegetarians or incorporating low-cholesterol and low-fat foods into their diet.

 You might have tried soy products already, and you likely already have an opinion on whether they suit your palate or not. But you might not know that soy affects your health in more ways than one.

Soy Controversies

Soy has a mixed reputation because, on one hand, it has been shown to decrease heart disease but, on the other hand, it can cause trigger headaches for some people. More importantly, soy has been cautiously linked to breast cancer and male fertility problems because of its estrogenic chemical properties. All of these reports can be confusing for anyone to digest.

The Beneficial Effects of Soy in Stroke

Nevertheless, the relationship between soy and stroke is important for those at risk of stroke because it may be a safe and effective way to help counteract the severe injury of a stroke. Several research studies done on mice have shown that soy can actually decrease the size and severity of brain damage after a stroke.

Soy can decrease harmful chemical changes in the brain after a stroke and it can protect nerves before or after a stroke. The results of these studies on mice raise the possibility that you can benefit from regularly eating soy to help prevent stroke and to help recover from a stroke.

How Can You Decide if you Should Try to Eat More Soy-Based Food?

Soy and tofu can be main ingredients in soups, stir fry, and sandwiches.

Soy-containing food can serve as a meat and protein substitute, adding needed calories, bulk, and antioxidants without adding unnecessarily heavy calories, fat or cholesterol. Yet, soy does not deliver most of your essential vitamins and minerals, so it should be paired with fruit and vegetables to complete a well-balanced diet.

If you notice headaches after eating soy-based food, then you definitely should avoid those types of dishes. It is definitely a bad idea to eat anything that triggers headaches. If you have a family history or any other risk factor for breast, uterine, ovarian or thyroid cancer, it is advisable to discuss your recommended soy intake with your oncologist.

Similarly, if you are a male with infertility issues, it is also important to discuss whether or not you should consume soy products with your fertility specialist.

Likewise, if you don't like the taste of soy-based meals- then you need not worry because you still can explore many other diet alternatives to help prevent stroke such as chocolate, bananas, and even wine!

If you like soy and you can add some to your diet, then, by all means, get started.

What is most important, however, is to plan your meals with variety in mind to avoid excessive consumption of one type of ingredient- particularly a controversial ingredient about which much is yet unknown. Keep in mind that just about EVERY type of food has been linked to some adverse health effects when taken in excess- whether it is the high fat and high cholesterol in cooking oils, steroids in meat and poultry, excessive vitamins and herbs, or pesticides in fresh produce. Moderation and variety are the key to a healthy lifestyle.


Neuroprotection by the soy isoflavone, genistein, via inhibition of mitochondria-dependent apoptosis pathways and reactive oxygen induced-NF-κB activation in a cerebral ischemia mouse model, Qian Y, Guan T, Huang M, Cao L, Li Y, Cheng H, Jin H, Yu D, Neurochemistry International, June 2012

Central inflammatory response to experimental stroke is inhibited by a neuroprotective dose of dietary soy, Shambayati M, Patel M, Ma Y, Cunningham RL, Schreihofer DA, Brain Research, September 2014

Potential detrimental effect of soy isoflavones on testis Sertoli cells, Yin D, Zhu Y, Liu L, Xu H, Huang J, Li Y, Zhong Nan Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue Ban., June 2014

Long-term exposure to dietary sources of genistein induces estrogen-independence in the human breast cancer (MCF-7) xenograft model, Andrade JE, Ju YH, Baker C, Doerge DR, Helferich WG, Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, February 2014

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