Tofu: Friend or foe?

A friend of mine emailed yesterday asking what I knew about soy. She had read that it might inhibit nutritent absorbtion and contain harmful levels of isoflavones (a.k.a. phytoestrogens). I tried to find some answers to this question a while back and came up with nothing conclusive.

Should I be recoiling in fear when I pull this container of tofu out of my refrigerator? I did another quick search today and here’s what I came up with:

From the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Soy fact sheet (updated Mar 2008) including Side Effects and Cautions. Sounds like soy supplements might be a bad idea, but otherwise generally okay.

From Nutrition Data Blog (which I find to be a seemingly grounded and balanced source of nutrition information) I found two articles cautioning against labeling soy as an evil food: Phytoestrogens: Helpful or harmful? and Soy isn’t affecting men’s hormone levels…but something is.

For those of you who need even more (!)…from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is a summary report on the Effects of Soy on Health Outcomes (Aug 2005). I gave it a skim and it seems to sing the same tune: not enough conclusive evidence at this time.

Now if you enjoy freaking yourself out with non-mainstream approaches to medicine and nutrition, you’ll probably have other sources of information saying radically different things. But it looks to me like soy is basically okay as far as my family goes. Next year I’ll probably have an entirely different approach or hopefully none at all.

Author: Cindy

Born in Charleston. Raised in the Silicon Valley. Live near Hartford, Connecticut with my husband and two children. We have lots of tropical fish.

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