Soy offers variety of health benefits

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Recently it was my privilege to attend a full day seminar in Portland, where the presentations were about whole plant foods. There was much good information from six presenters.

One of the talks was about soybean products. This was by Dr. Mark Messina, a Ph.D who is probably one of the leading experts in the U.S. on soy.

He has in the past served as a paid consultant for White Wave Foods, Archer Daniel Midland Co., the United Soybean Board and the Soyfoods Council. So the question is would he be able to present unbiased, reliable information?

I have good reason to believe he has significant religious convictions, such that I was and am comfortable with what he presented.

There are some folks out there who think soy is bad. However, people in countries such as Japan and China have been using soy in significant quantities for thousands of years and still use it in larger quantities than we do.

Furthermore, the U.S. is now the largest grower of soybeans in the world and 98 percent of what is grown is fed to cattle. To my knowledge the cattle are not having harmful effects from eating soy. These facts suggest that soy is not all that bad.

Soy protein is a complete protein and is readily digested. Here is a list of the positive benefits of soy products:

Lowers cholesterol.

Lowers blood pressure-which decreases the risk of stroke by 10 percent and of coronary heart disease by 5 percent.

Increases the endothelial function. The endothelium is the inner lining of arteries.

Inhibits bone loss which reduces the risk of fractures.

Reduces hot flash frequency and hot flash severity in postmenopausal women.

Reduces the risk of getting breast cancer and recurrence, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2009.In a study done on Asian women it was found that to prevent breast cancer soy should be started during childhood. To get the benefit of soy young girls need to eat one or more servings of soy per day. Moderate intake is safe and potentially beneficial for women with breast cancer.

Less allergies than with milk. A baby has one chance in 250 of being allergic to it and by age 10, 69 percent of those who were allergic had outgrown the allergey. Adults have a 40 times greater chance of being allergic to cows’ milk that to soy.

Soy protein has no adverse effects on testosterone levels.

Soy protein has no adverse effects on the thyroid gland.

Soy protein is equal in quality to animal protein.

Now to consider the best sources of soy. Per serving, tempe gives the highest level followed by soynuts, tofu, edamame, and finally soy milk.

My family has used soy for probably 60 years and I know of no adverse effects from it.

Dr. Don Casebolt of College Place is a retired physician who is passionate about preventive medicine. He spent four years as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy, the last 2 1/2 years as a flight surgeon. He also worked on the Navajo Reservation for 22 years.

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