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Soy, a useful weight management option for Jamaicans – expert

Published:Wednesday | April 10, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Soy is included in a wide variety of foods.

With recent research suggesting soy can significantly support weight loss, nutrition scientist Dr Michelle Braun believes that the protein is applicable to the Jamaican population.

“Very relevant to the Jamaican population is the soy benefit to weight-management goals and short-term benefits in terms of satiating effects to support weight loss goals and longer-term benefits such as cardiometabolic health,” said Braun, who also heads Global Protein Scientific Affairs at DuPont Nutrition & Health.

Cardiometabolic health encompasses cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Such conditions share similar risk factors such as obesity and elevated blood pressure, which can be modified by diet and lifestyle choices.

Braun, who was speaking at a recently held Soy Seminar organised by LASCO and DuPont, outlined a myriad benefits that soy offers to the diet.

Soy is included in a wide variety of foods, including edamame – products made from whole soybeans – fermented soy foods, which contain more processed soy-based foods, as well as supplements. It generally contains fewer calories, less total fat and saturated fat and more fibre than other sources of high-quality protein.

“Both LASCO and DuPont thought it was necessary to do training in a food base that has had mixed commentary across the world. Our aim is that we will have a stronger knowledge base, and a better appreciation of what soy is, how it functions, and its benefits,” said Kari Steele, LASCO food drink brand manager. 

Also speaking at the seminar was Dr Mark Messina, an adjunct associate professor at Loma Linda University in California, United States, and executive director of the Soy Nutrition Institute, who elaborated on the nutritional benefits of soy.

It can help build muscle mass for people who are trying to get stronger and those engaged in exercising, Messina said, adding that soy can also help to lower blood cholesterol levels.

Messina, who co-owns a consulting company, Nutrition Matters, also debunked myths associated with soy, namely, that the protein worsens the prognosis of breast cancer patients, feminises men and harms the thyroid.


As for the misconception about soy and breast cancer, Messina pointed to research by the American Cancer Society and American Institute of Cancer, which shows that soy foods can be safely consumed by breast cancer patients, and there is evidence that says that consuming soy after a breast cancer diagnosis reduces recurrence and improves survival, he noted.

He said there is also no truth to suggestions that soy feminises men.

“That’s absolutely not true, it doesn’t reduce testosterone and raise oestrogen in men and it doesn’t affect fertility,” said Messina.

Messina also pointed to studies which show that soy has no adverse effects on the body’s thyroid function, which improves the body’s metabolism.

Food companies use isolated soy protein, which is essentially adding 90 per cent of protein into their own recipe to deliver high protein, which in turn helps with weight-management options being sought after by consumers, according to Braun, the nutrition scientist from DuPont.

As a local manufacturer, LASCO offers a variety of products packed with nutritional value, namely the LaSoy and Nutrify products – both containing soy.

“Our products offer variety, which caters to each member of the family. So from our meal supplements, such as LASCO LaSoy and Food Drink, which are very inclusive products, to Nutrify, our meal replacement, which is more ideal for parents or the older child going to high school or college, who may not have time to always have three meals,” Steele said. 

All products offer substantial amounts of protein, with Nutrify offering the most, 14g, which is 25 per cent of recommended daily value in one pack. The products also offer a wide array of vitamins and minerals, with Nutrify again offering over 20, as it is a meal replacement.