Soy for Health with Lila Ojeda, R.D. (cont.)

dhwilkins_WebMD What (generally) are the differences between soy protein and albacore tuna?

Ojeda: The soy nuts may have a higher fat content, in which case this may add unnecessary calories to your diet which can cause weight gain.

dhwilkins_WebMD I get confused about what the "good" and "bad" type of fat is - saturated or unsaturated (I know trans is BAD).

Ojeda: Soy and tuna are two completely incomparable foods. Soy is the only plant that contains a significant amount of the isoflavones (genestein, dadizein and glyciteine) which are thought to be responsible for the benefits. Fish has omega 3 fatty acids that are shown to improve triglyceride levels and also help cholesterol.

Moderator: Would you like to move onto its benefits for prevention of cancer?

dhwilkins_WebMD I originally thought that protein was only good for muscle reconstruction - but the infomercial stuff I read here led me to believe that protein was also very needed in endurance exercises, like biking and running.

Ojeda: Soy is a polyunsaturated type of fat which decreases LDL but may also decrease HDL (good cholesterol) a little which isn't preferred. We're going back and forth between proteins and good fat/bad fats now.... Everyone needs protein, carbohydrates and fat in their diet - all in reasonable amounts. Yes, soy is also thought to decrease cancer risk, but the mechanism is unclear with this.

dhwilkins_WebMD sorry for jumping around - Yes, let's move onto the cancer benefits. How much soy should I incorporate into my diet to realize some benefits? (you sure are a fast typist).

Ojeda: The data seems to go back and forth with breast cancer, but it may be beneficial there and with prostate cancer as well. Again, most of these studies are observational type. With prostate cancer, there is the same amount of cancer in Asian American and American men, yet the cells do not progress to prostate cancer in Asian American men as they do in Americans. Soy may also help with osteoporosis. This may surprise some of you, but the calcium in soy is absorbed just as well, if not better, than the calcium in milk. 1/2 cup of firm tofu has about 258 mg of calcium and a class of milk has about 300 mg. of calcium If you get tofu that is processed with calcium salts, it can have as much as 750 mg. About 1200 mg of calcium is recommended.

dhwilkins_WebMD Interesting. My neighbor is a pharmacologist (sp?) and he is doing some research into the low incidence of migraine headaches in Asian cultures. Their research shows that when in America,

Ojeda: also, the isoflavones seem to decrease the postmenopausal bone loss.

dhwilkins_WebMD Asians have about the same incidence of migraines. They are investigating a soy supplement to treat migraines - Have you heard of this?

Ojeda: More studies need to be done with this. Recap: if you're just starting to eat soy, shoot for 10 grams of soy protein/day. Work up to maybe 20. Don't go ALL soy and go overboard, just add it here and there to your diet.

dhwilkins_WebMD He is in Birmingham at UAB. Thanx - I'll lurk awhile and give someone else time to talk...

Moderator: Are there any drawbacks to soy consumption?

Ojeda: migraines...I received information today saying that those who ate soy or tofu twice a week had more "cognitive" or thinking trouble. However, this was just based on what people told them and they were then asked to take a test. There are MANY other reasons as to why these people may have scored lower on these tests!!! It could have been attributed to a number of things, but they chose to blame it on tofu.

dhwilkins_WebMD The only exposure I have to tofu is Chinese food - generally loaded with MSG.

Ojeda: Americans right now eat a high fat diet, red meat, pesticides in foods, aspartame, processed food, etc. etc. Soy is MUCH healthier than how we normally eat. It can't hurt to eat a little soy and it's actually very good!

Moderator: Can soy completely replace meat in an average person's diet?

Ojeda: But there are no clear answers that soy IS the answer and will cure all. Americans are always looking for that magical pill, substance, food, etc and there's nothing like that. Moderation with everything is key. If you want it to...if you don't eat meat, there are still tons of other protein sources out there that you can eat. I eat soy because I like it! but I was raised a vegetarian and ate plenty of foods besides protein. It's actually quite easy, but maybe not at first if you don't know where to start. I mean, "besides soy protein".

Moderator: What's your favorite dish that incorporates tofu? And how are the tofu corndogs?

Ojeda: But yes, soy can be the main protein source if desired. It is equal, protein wise, to those that are of animal origin.

Ojeda: The corndogs are pretty good! The chicken nuggets are even better - but watch out, those processed foods are fairly high in fat. I love to throw grated tofu in lasagna or stir fries and a sauce. This week I've been adding sliced, marinated and baked tofu to my sandwiches, add some lettuce and tomatoes and there you go! it's quite good. :)

Moderator: The tofu remains uncooked for the sandwiches?

Ojeda: Actually, tofu is cooked when you buy it. You can eat it as is, but I always cook it and add a sauce because it tastes better and will soak up any flavor. I soak the tofu in a sauce I like and then you can grill on the stove (both sides) in a pan coated with nonstick cooking spray, or bake it in the oven for 30-45 minutes.