But increasing research has suggested a hidden dark side to soy-based products, which when excessively consumed might wreak hormonal havoc on men.
Because soy is a rich source of phytoestrogen isoflavones, which are similar to the female hormone oestrogen, some research suggests that men can experience gender-bending symptoms by incorporating too much soy in their diet.
Research on whether soy is good or bad is for the most part inclusive. So while some doctors encourage their clients to limit their consumption of soy-based products, those who support a more vegetarian way of life have recommended a diet rich in tofu and soy beverages.
Nutrition consultant and general practitioner Dr André McDonald was very cautious about declaring the effects of soy on the body, given the inclusiveness of studies about the beans, but he did concur that it contained a compound that was similar to oestrogen.
"It can stimulate certain organs as if it was oestrogen stimulating them," he said.
He said a number of his patients have raised concerns about the use of soy in their diet, but he personally doesn't believe it can cause many changes to the body "unless they are taking it in high concentrations".
The doctor points out that oestrogen is also present in chicken and some fruits have the same compound as soy. Because of this, he cautions people not to be too quick in ruling out soy completely from their diet.
"Unfortunately, it is not something that we can just rule on. We have to be very careful," he said.
Apart from the feminising of men, soy has been blamed for a low sperm count in men and the promotion of kidney stone formation. Some doctors also believe that soy contains toxins and therefore leads to thyroid problems.
On the flip side, soy has been touted as one of the best remedies for women going through menopause. It is one of the primary ingredients in infant formulas around the world and some even suggest it helps with weight loss and prevents cancer. Multi-million dollar co-operations have developed a variety of supplements from soy and the fitness industry has created shakes and powders to help people power through their fitness routine.
The effects of soy both good and bad are still controversial, and do not appear to see any resolution in the near future. Still, some experts suggest that individuals consume soy in its unprocessed form instead of after it has undergone genetic modification.
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