Soy protein isolate has the highest protein content, and hence it is an ideal source of protein for all of us. But, is it really safe? Let’s find out more…
Protein is a compound of various essential amino acids and hence, it is a crucial nutrition for us humans. In fact, protein is called the building block of the human body, because it is necessary for the health of various body parts like body cells and tissues, nervous system, eyes, skin, nails, hair and almost the entire body. We can gain protein through its various sources, amongst which soy protein is the most prominent vegan source of protein. Soy protein is made using raw soybeans and soy meal, that are free of hull as well as fat. There are three major soy protein derivatives, namely, soy flour, soy concentrate and soy isolates. Regarded as the storage protein, soy protein is stored inside the system for a longer period of time. Since it takes more time for digestion, it proves to be a better source of energy. The richest protein source of soy protein is soy protein isolate. Soy isolate is made using fat free soy flour and it does not contain any traces of carbohydrates or fat. Soy isolates contains minimum 90% of protein, which is quite remarkable. However, there’s always been a sort of debate about benefits and side effects of soy isolate. Keep reading the following section of the article and learn more about it.
Nutrition and Benefits
As mentioned in the introduction, soy isolate contains at least 90% protein. It means, isolated soy protein is as rich as beef and eggs. It is also called complete protein. Since soy isolate is not derived from animal sources, it is useful for vegans as well as people with lactose intolerance and egg allergies. Soy isolates are neutral in nature as well as in flavor and hence, they can be easily mixed with other products without affecting their flavor. Soy isolate is easy to digest and it does not cause health problems like flatulence and bloating. A few years back, the USFDA questioned soy isolate manufacturers about toxic action of soy protein which was caused by the presence of chlorophyll in soy oil. However, soy protein which is available today, is free from chlorophyll. Due to its higher nutrition value, and neutral flavoring properties, soy isolate is popularly used in food industry. Initially it was used for increasing textures of various meats.
Along with using it as a texturizing agent, today, soy isolate is also used for making various food products. For instance, milk and dairy replacement products like protein powder, liquid nutrition meals, infant formula foods, liquid soy milk, protein bars, fruit drinks and juices, sauces, soups, breads, breakfast cereals, muscle building foods and dietary supplements. You can either purchase the above mentioned soy isolate products, or you can purchase flavored or flavorless soy isolate powder from pharmacy stores and the supermarket. You may also come across a few fortified forms of soy isolate that contain various vitamins, minerals and flavorings. Consumption of soy isolate provides rich nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, protein, vitamin B complex, magnesium and iron. Health benefits of soy isolate include, healthy heart, healthy bones and prevention against prostate cancer. It is also effective for other problems like mood swings, fluctuating body temperature and hot flashes.
Allergy and Side Effects
So, is soy protein isolate bad? This is one of the most debated questions about soy protein. Well, there are a lot of theories that claim benefits and side effects of soy isolates. According to many researchers, soy isolates are extremely harmful for health, since they contain high levels of MSG or monosodium glutamate, which is a harmful food additive. Soy isolate also contains certain types of enzymes that are essential for protein metabolism of the body. Interestingly, MSG is not listed on labels of any soy isolate products and hence, it is considered as hidden ingredient. Presence of MSG is a serious health concern that can cause irreversible damage to health. Along with these additives, soy isolates contain genistein, which is a type of soy isoflavone, which may cause serious health conditions like breast cancer and thyroid diseases. However, according to The U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, in most cases, soy isolate is not harmful and its side effects are not long-lasting. It also claims that most side effects are experienced by only a few people and hence, they are not as serious as they are claimed to be.
Some commonly experienced and reported dangers of soy isolate include, hormonal imbalance, erectile dysfunction, various signs of indigestion like loss of appetite, diarrhea, constipation, food allergy symptoms, nausea and vomiting. In a few severe cases, different types of cancer like breast cancer, ovarian cancer; cardiovascular diseases and various autoimmune system disorders are also reported. According to some experts, soy protein benefits like improvement of cardiovascular system and prevention from various types of arthritis, are controversial since they are not yet scientifically proven. It is this reason why consumption of soy protein, as well as products that contain soy isolates, is totally a personal decision of the consumer. However, in order to stay safe and protected against certain proven or unproven side effects of soy isolates, one should always consult a professional health care provider prior to consumption of soy isolate in any form.
As you can see, there are a lot of views and counter views about soy protein isolate. The best thing that one can do to get out of the dilemma, is to consult a knowledgeable health care provider.
(Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only, and should not be used without prior professional medical advice.)