Today our guest blogger Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LDN, helps shed light on the soy-breast cancer controversy. Victoria is a registered dietitian and author of The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods (Alpha Books/Penguin, 2011).
By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LDN
Soy is controversial – especially as it relates to breast health. With the low rates of breast cancer among Asian women whose diets are rich in traditional soy foods (eg, soybeans, tofu, miso, tempeh, soymilk), much research has focused on the diets of Asian women compared to Western women.
The Uniqueness of Soy
Soybeans contain chemicals called isoflavones. These isoflavones are similar in structure to the hormone estrogen, thus they are called phytoestrogens or plant estrogens. Some experts believe that soy isoflavones’ ability to attract and compete with natural estrogen in the body may have anti-cancer effects on the breast.
However, others believe that even mild estrogen intake from soy can pose a risk for breast cancer, particularly in women who have had breast cancer or those with a family history of breast cancer.
The Dichotomy of Soy’s Fame
Does eating soy help prevent breast cancer, or can it increase your risk? It’s not so clear cut. On one hand, organizations like the American Cancer Society issued a statement of support in 2006 for the safe consumption of up to 3 servings of traditional soyfoods per day for breast cancer patients – while advising against the use of concentrated sources of isoflavones, such as powders and supplements. Other experts advise against any isoflavone-containing product use for breast cancer survivors and for women at high risk.
The Bottom Line:
At any age, moderation appears to be the key with soyfoods. The American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research define safe consumption for most women as 1 to 2 servings of traditional soy foods per day or up to 100 milligrams of isoflavones a day – excluding concentrated sources of isoflavones, such as powders and supplements. That’s equivalent to 1/2 cup tofu and 1 cup soy milk per day.
How Soy Isoflavones Stack Up
The traditional soyfoods listed below are rich sources of isoflavones.
Raw soybeans (dry weight) = between 2 and 4 milligrams total isoflavones/gram
Tofu = 30 to 40 mg per 4 oz serving
Soy milk = 30 to 40 mg per 8 oz serving
Tempeh = 30 to 40 mg per 4 oz serving
Soy flour = 50 mg per 4 oz serving
Keep in mind: Soy sauce and soyoil do not contain isoflavones.
Source: U.S. Soyfoods Directory, accessed at http://www.soyfoods.com/nutrition/nutrition.html
Edamame, Red Pepper, and Ginger Salad
Edamame (soybeans) add a protein-packed punch along with filling fiber for a great side dish or healthful snack.
Yield: 4 servings
Serving size: 2 tablespoons
Prep time: 5 minutes
1 cup edamame (soybeans), frozen and shelled
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 shallot, minced
2 TB. feta cheese, crumbled
1 TB. fresh ginger, minced
2 TB. extra virgin olive oil
1 TB. balsamic vinegar
1 TB. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
1. Defrost edamame on the countertop for an hour (or heat in the microwave on high for 60 seconds).
2. Toss edamame, red pepper, shallot, feta cheese, and ginger in large mixing bowl.
3. In a separate bowl whisk together olive oil, vinegar, and mustard and pour mixture on top of vegetables. Toss to coat, and add salt and pepper as desired. Serve with whole grain pita chips or as a filling in a small, whole grain pita.
Each serving has:
14 g total fat
3 g saturated fat
0 g trans fat
6 mg cholesterol
130 mg sodium
18 g carbohydrates
5 g Fiber
5 g sugars
19 g protein
43 percent iron
Vicki’s website and blog is www.livingwellcommunications.com. You may email Vicki at firstname.lastname@example.org.