Friday, August 14, 2009

Benefits and Risks of Soy Protein

By Phil Ruth

Supplement manufacturers have done a wonderful job of confusing the fitness wanting public. For the last 5 years the bodybuilding community has gobbled up soy protein.

Eventually a research studies showed that due to its quick stomach emptying properties most of the protein consumed via whey protein is metabolized (burned up by liver enzymes). The whey manufacturers first responded by increasing the number of grams per serving. More protein would have to be consumed, thus more protein is sold.

Soy got popular with vegetarians. The industry watched when whey sales spiked, thus, to get their own position, they targeted on the "health" marketplace. Many of the studies are valid, however, they do not represent the entire picture.

In one particular study published in France, two groups of apparently healthy men were fed isocaloric diets with one group using soy protein, the other using animal products as a protein source. The goal was to see if there was a reduced propensity for gallstones if animal proteins are replaced by soy. Since gallstone accumulation can be linked with crystallization of cholesterol, at its conclusion the study examined cholesterol levels.

Findings from that study demonstrated that cholesterol crystallization was decreased in the soy group. This finding led to the idea that soy can aid in preventing gallstones. The study failed to show some important things. There was no control over vegetable and fruit consumption. Soy is part of the group of vegetables that are high in isoflavones.

Isoflavones have been closely linked to health benefits including a lowering of cholesterol. We've known for years that a predominance of animal meats can have adverse affects on cholesterol, but that doesn't mean that someone consuming soy would have better cholesterol levels than someone eating combinations of chicken breast, turkey breast, fish, and egg whites and a variety of natural vegetables. You can see how the conclusions drawn from studies can be misconstrued and over-emphasized in significance.

Scientific studies indicate that there are cancer fighting benefits of a meal plan rich in vegetables like soy. Most people would not assume that people who ingest soy instead of milk, egg-whites, and lean protein will demonstrate improved health, if a physical activity ingredient is included, the study would be invalidated.

Most of the research information promoted specific to soy is publicized by organizations with a vested interest in Soy Protein sales, such as The United Soybean Board. This does not mean that soy is not a good source of protein, but rather that the health benefits, as is commonplace, have been taken out of context and overblown to sell products.

Metabolically, recent data suggest that you should consume a mixture of casein and whey protein for optimal results. Unless you are a vegetarian, you'll see the best results from consuming a wide variety of foods as part of your nutrition program.

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