Long before almond, oat, and coconut milk, there was soy. Hailed as a healthy substitute for cow’s milk and meat protein, soy was the original star of the superfood scene… until it wasn’t.

Somewhere along the way, the science became murky and the humble soybean became a has been, associated with everything from hormone disruption to breast cancer.

Yet, a major new study, which analysed the diets of more than 90,000 Japanese people, has found a strong link between a diet high in fermented soy and a longer lifespan. So, is soy bad for us or not?

“There is minimal evidence that soy is associated with breast cancer,” says dietitian Melissa Meier. “However, guidelines do recommend women who have or have had breast cancer should avoid consuming large quantities of soy foods.” This is because soy contains natural plant hormones (known as phytoestrogens) that can mimic the effects of oestrogen and, in some cases, disrupt hormone health.

It’s also worth noting that the powdered version of soy found in protein powders and bars has been highly processed, “which means it has weak nutritional benefits – they rob you of the fibre, low-GI carbohydrates and micronutrients found in whole soybeans,” Melissa explains.

The short of it? Soy foods can mostly be a healthy addition to your diet (see below for the most nutritious kinds). And as for that soy latte? If you’re wanting the healthiest brew, ask your barista if he or she is using one that’s unsweetened – and enjoy!

5 Healthy Sources Of Soy:

1. Soybeans (including edamame)
2. Tofu
3. Tempeh
4. Miso
5. Natto

© Prevention Australia