Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Soybean oil bad does not mean soy bad

On Facebook, Dr. Weil posted a short message "From the morning session of the Nutrition and Health Conf. in Boston: Consumption of soybean oil (usually labeled 'vegetable oil' and common in fried foods and cheap baked goods) has risen 1,000 percent over the last 100 years - a worrisome trend for American health.", followed by tens of comments. Some people are confused about the health benefit of soy because of this message. The reason is that not everything related to soy is bad, or is good. In one posting by Dr. Weil, "omega 6 fatty acids are the type prevalent in most vegetable oils, particularly soybean oil", and another, "Refined soybean oil, the second ingredient on the list, is a cheap vegetable oil that we should all avoid¸ because it is responsible for the excess of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids in the mainstream diet." Because our bodies already have plenty of Omega-6 ever since (perhaps) the Industrial Revolution, we don't need more of it even though we do need a small amount. The ubiquitous soybean oil just makes what we have excessive.

On the other hand, soy or soybeans are not necessarily bad, and may be good. Apparent contradiction about whether to take soy can be clarified, to some extent, by reading the entire Wikipedia Health benefits and Health risks sections. One interesting remark in the long article is by a 2011 research team, "soy isoflavones intake is associated with a significant reduced risk of breast cancer incidence in Asian populations, but not in Western populations". Genes are not created completely equal across all ethnicities. I'm sure more research is needed on non-Asian populations assessing the benefits and risks, but it's almost never a concern for the Asian women, who are generally encouraged to eat more tofu instead of less.

Another interesting, latest, finding is that animal experiment indicates that soy protein can reduce liver fat.