January 3, 2007
After being cautioned by my mom and sister over Christmas break about growing reports of the perils of soy milk, I undertook some casual Web research to assess these warnings for myself. I was dubious, of course. It’s soy! It’s ancient! Beloved by healthy Easterners for centuries! I defiantly munched my cheddar-flavored soy crispettes and started perusing Google.
Finding the controversy was easy enough. But further Googling ensnared me in a super-techy recursive loop of a conversation between Bill Sardi and his soy-bashing antagonists, Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. Here, at last, my techno-triumphalist, age-of-mass-culture-is-dead self started scrambling for an “authoritative” source to lead me from this thicket.
Best as I can tell, largely on the strength of this 2000 FDA Consumer report, much of the controversy derives from the fact that we currently like to consume not only soy — the protein, the marvelous whole food that makes the peanut seem one-dimensional — but also a number of soy derivatives in pill form, as dietary supplements. These pills or powders are made from the individual components of soy (isoflavones), and holistic health sources like to bottle ‘em up and sell ‘em to consumers as miracle drugs. But there’s no proof these components bring any health benefits on their own, and there’s reasonable evidence they might bring some risks.
So the pills, not the protein, are the problem. I think. As far as I know, the FDA still allows foods that meet certain criteria to bear a label saying, “Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease.”
I have no particular point in sharing any of this, I just think it raises a few interesting questions. Sorry to those of you who read looking for a boffo insight at the end. For the record, I just finished a delicious bowl of Multigrain Cheerios, drowned in Silk.