More and more I’m noticing health-conscious people say “I don’t eat soy” with the same self-righteousness with which vegans inform their more barbaric friends that they don’t eat meat, saying that something in soy mimics estrogen and can have noticeable effects on the development of children, especially males. Being as distrustful as I am of the American food system, I bookmarked this snippet for further research.
A quick search informed me that the concern is caused by phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that are molecularly similar to and therefore can have similar effects as estrogen. Flax seed and other oilseeds contain the highest total phytoestrogen content, followed by soy bean and tofu. The benefits of these foods have been touted in the health food circuit for years, and soybeans have been a major staple of the Chinese diet for oh, five thousand years. And they seem to be doing just fine.