Healthy Living Blog

Soy: Good for You, Good for Michigan

Tina Miller, MS RDN, Food and Nutrition Expert, Integrative Health Professional. EMU Eagle Nutrition Services 160 Rackham Hall Ypsilanti, MI 48197, offering nutrition guidance, DEXA scans and BIA assessments.  Contact us for more information: 734.487.6572


Soy is a top agricultural crop in Michigan with 2 million acres of soybeans grown each year on 10,000 farms.  Soy crops also help grow Michigan’s economy, generaing $939 million in cash receipts annually. The majority of Michigan’s soy is used for animal feed, but some soybeans are used in Michigan soy foods and in products such as cleaners, lotions and candles.

Good for you

The most nutritious forms of soy are whole soy foods like edamame (green or yellow soybeans), some soy products such as burgers and fresh soy products like soy hummus.  Whole soy foods include all of the beneficial high-quality protein, vitamins, phytonutrients and fiber that the soy bean has to offer.  Other more processed soy products, like bars or chips, leave out many beneficial nutritional components.

Confusion about soy and health often comes from inaccuracies reported in the media and on-line sources.  Many people needlessly avoid eating soy due to misinformation.


Soy Myths and Facts:



Myth: Breast cancer patients should avoid soy foods.

Fact: Not true! Recent human research shows that soy foods are safe and may possibly even be beneficial for some breast cancer survivors and for some at high risk for breast cancer.

Studies demonstrate that women who eat soy foods have a lower incidence of cancer recurrence.  Both the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) have concluded that soy foods are safe for breast cancer patients.


Myth: Soy protein does not make much of a difference in lowering cholesterol.

Fact: Not true! Soy protein and the healthy unsaturated fats in soy foods can help reduce cholesterol, especially when soy foods are substituted for higher saturated fat foods. Soy as part of a health diet can reduce your risk for heart disease and perhaps help lower blood pressure.


Myth: Soy foods have feminizing effects on men.

Fact: Not true! The preponderance of evidence shows that soy foods do not feminize men or impair male fertility.  Eating soy foods will not make males less masculine, lead to man-boobs, cause early puberty or decrease fertility. Many research studies confirm that soy foods do not have any feminizing effects on men or boys. In reality, a balanced diet that includes soy foods can help support healthy growth and development for young boys, and soy foods are a great option for men looking to maintain healthy weight and cholesterol levels.


Myth: Many people have soy allergies.

Fact: Not true! Although some do have allergies to soy protein, the number is small.  A recent survey found that approximately only 1 out of 2,500 adults reported having a doctor-diagnosed allergy to soy protein. The rate is higher in children than adults, as children are more likely to have food allergies in general. However, by age 10 an estimated 70% of children will outgrow their soy allergies.


Myth: Soy foods can lead to hypothyroidism.

Fact: Soy does not adversely affect thyroid function in healthy people and does not need to be avoided for those taking medication for hypothyroidism. More than 20 clinical studies show that isoflavones do not adversely affect thyroid function in healthy people. This research includes multi-year studies in which participants consumed large amounts of soy.

Chilled Avocado Salad

Serves 8


1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into bite-size pieces

2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1/4 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large Roma tomato, seeded and diced

1 green onion, sliced

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice, cooled

1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup shelled edamame, thaw if frozen

1/8 tsp. salt

Ground black pepper to taste


  1. Whisk oil, vinegar, salt, oregano and cumin in large bowl. Add avocado; toss gently to coat.
  2. Add rice, black beans, edamame, tomato and green onion; toss gently to mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

Nutrition Information (per serving):  Calories 294, Fat 14g, Cholesterol 57mg, Sodium 61mg, Carbohydrate 35g, Fiber 6g, Protein 7g.



Edamame Hummus

Serves 8-10

2 cups shelled edamame, thaw if frozen

4 garlic cloves, unpeeled

1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped

4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. chili powder

Dash of salt & pepper


Roast garlic in a skillet over medium heat, turning often, for about 15 minutes (or until it turns a golden-brown color). Remove cloves from skillet and let cool. Peel off skins and set aside.

Thaw soybeans if using frozen edamame. If using raw shelled soybeans (edamame):  bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a large pan. Add Shelled Edamame to the pan, bring water back to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Save and set aside 3/4 cup of the water before draining the edamame. Let the edamame cool.

Coarsely chop the garlic cloves in a food processor. Add the cooked edamame, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper to the food processor and blend. Add the cilantro, lime juice, and olive oil to food processor and pulse to combine with the other ingredients.

Add the cooking water (or water) a little at a time and process until smooth.

Enjoy with pita chips or veggie sticks.

*Note: you may not need to add all of the 3/4 cup cooking water.

Nutrition per serving: 85 calories, 4g protein, 4g carbohydrate, 1.5g dietary fiber, 7.5g fat, 4mg sodium.


Wake Up Smoothie – Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee

Serves 1


1 1/4 cups orange juice

1 banana

1/2 cup low-fat silken tofu

2 tsp. sugar

1 1/4 cups frozen berries such as Meijer Frozen Triple Berry Blend or use frozen raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and/or strawberries


Combine orange juice, banana, berries, tofu, and sugar in a blender; cover and blend until creamy. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information per smoothie: 162 calories, 4g protein, 2g fat, 33g carbohydrate, 4g dietary fiber, 19mg sodium.