Published by Lindsey Treffry.

Soybeans really are a wonder food. They are loaded with high-quality protein—one cup of tofu contains 20 grams of protein, more than a cup of yogurt contains—as well as magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, calcium, iron, B vitamins, vitamin K, antioxidants, and fiber. At the same time, soy products are low in saturated fat, have a low glycemic index, and contain zero cholesterol. What’s not to love? Cameron Wells, a staff dietitian with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, explains why more men should be discovering the joy of soy.

What are some health benefits of soy?

Soy products, such as miso soup, tofu, and edamame, have been shown to lower serum cholesterol levels, and the isoflavones also play a role in bone formation. If you look at countries in Asia where tofu and soy milk are dietary staples, heart disease and cancer are much rarer than in the United States.

In fact, soy products can actually help prevent cancer in men. The research shows that men who consume soy are less likely to develop prostate cancer and that increased soy consumption can result in a 26 percent reduction in prostate cancer risk.

Are phytoestrogens in soy safe for men?

Soy products have no adverse effects on men. The science continues to show that soy products do not affect testosterone levels in men. The phytoestrogens in soy do not appear to have any effect on hormone levels in men and boys and thus do not affect sexual development or fertility. Men’s Fitness magazine referenced a 2004 Italian study of children who had been raised on soy protein formulas. The children showed no gynecomastia (i.e., enlarged male breasts), no early puberty, no changes in bones, and no other unusual signs related to hormones.

What are the healthiest sources of soy to eat?

Less-processed soy products, such as tofu and tempeh, are a great option. Not only are tofu and tempeh packed with nutrients, they are also full of essential minerals, such as calcium and iron. The healthiest choices are those that are minimally processed because they retain more of their original nutrients. However, processed soy products—such as veggie hot dogs and soy burgers—are still cholesterol-free and lower in fat than their animal-protein counterparts.

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