April 2021 Issue

Editor’s Spot: Spotlight on Soy
By Judith Riddle
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 23, No. 4, P. 6

As many dietitians know, April kicks off National Soy Foods Month, a special time to shine the spotlight on the lowly but powerful soybean, which packs a huge nutritional punch, and encourage clients and patients to include more soyfoods in their diets and as ingredients in their daily cooking to improve overall health.

Soy is a high-quality source of protein (the only plant-based complete protein) that contains all of the essential amino acids; isoflavones (plant estrogens); vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and iron; soluble and insoluble fiber; omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids; zero cholesterol; and a scant amount of saturated fat. Soy’s stellar nutrient profile has been the subject of much research to determine its preventive effects on chronic disease and other conditions.

Studies have shown that soyfoods can decrease the risk of coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and some forms of cancer, including prostate and breast. It’s also been found to lower blood pressure and reduce menopausal symptoms and fatigue. In fact, the isoflavones in soy, aka phytoestrogens, have a mild estrogenic effect in the body that can decrease hot flashes and other irksome menopausal symptoms. I recently learned that clients with irritable bowel syndrome may be able to eat some soyfoods (eg, firm tofu, soymilk, soy cheese, and tempeh) as part of a low-FODMAP diet, as these choices help promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut and provide much nutrition.

But for all of the good press soyfoods have received over the years, they have come under scrutiny and have been the subject of popular misconceptions, leading people to believe they could be detrimental to health.

One of the hottest topics under research is antinutrients, naturally occurring compounds found in abundance in soy and other plant foods and said to have possible negative health effects.

In this month’s cover story on page 22, Today’s Dietitian explores the research on antinutrients in soy and whether they are in fact hazardous or potentially beneficial to
human health.

Also in this issue are articles on cranberry products and UTIs, the role of electrolytes in hydration, pregnancy and weight gain, and the health benefits of matcha. Please enjoy the issue!

— Judith Riddle, Editor