How good is soy for you?

The use of soy in our diets has been a controversial subject lately. Is soy a healthy choice for you and if so how much soy can you include in your diet? The soybean has been a part of the human diet for almost 5,000 years. Unlike most plant foods, the soybean is high in protein and is considered equivalent to animal foods in terms of the quality of the protein it contains.

Soy bean contains estrogen-like molecules, called isoflavones, which may help fight heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer, and other diseases, according to some of the latest findings. In fact, it is believed that 25 grams per day of soy protein, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.

But with soy showing up in everything from breakfast cereal and pasta to energy bars and smoothies, some researchers now worry that too much of a good thing could be harmful.

According to MedlinePlus, no serious short-term or long-term side effects have been reported from eating soy foods for individuals who are not allergic to soy. Common mild side effects include stomachaches, constipation, and diarrhea.

Soybeans also contain moderate amounts of a natural substance called purine. Consuming large amounts of purines can make gout worse. Persons with gout should not eat a lot of soy products.

Soy foods and soy-based infant formula are widely used in children, but no studies have shown whether isolated soy protein or isoflavone supplements are useful or safe in this population. Therefore, isolated soy products are not recommended for children at this time....