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Can eating soy affect men’s sexual health?

Dr Neha Sanwalka tells us why eating soy in excess is bad for men.

Written by Kriti Saraswat |Updated : October 30, 2015 12:12 PM IST

Read this in Hindi.

Soy or soybean is often consumed in Asian countries and it is commonly found in India and other parts of the world as well. However, it is one food item which has equal amount of detractors as well as supporters. There have been studies that say it is extremely healthy while some point out to the fact that soy isn t all healthy as it is proclaimed to be. Some also suggest that men should not eat soy. We asked Dr Neha Sanwalka who has a PhD in Health Sciences, to shed light on this controversial food item. Here s what she has to say.

Some studies say that since soy or tofu has estrogen-like properties, men should not eat it. Is this true?

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No. It s not true. Men can consume soy but in small quantities. Soy or soy products like tofu are a rich source of a group of antioxidants known as isoflavones . Soy isoflavones are phytoestrogens (meaning estrogen from plant) and have a structure similar to human estrogen. These phytoestrogen tend to mimic and alter the activity of estrogen in the human body. Even though soy contains phytoestrogen, some amount of estrogen is present naturally in males and it s safe for men to consume soy in small quantities. Here are 5 foods men should have for a healthy prostate.

Can eating too much of it be bad for men?

Yes. Excess of any food is bad for health. Few scientific studies have shown that consumption of very high amounts of soy or soy-based products like soy milk or tofu on a daily basis can have side-effects for men.

What could be the side-effects?

Very high intake of soy can cause sexual disruption in men such as altered testosterone (male hormone) levels, reduced libido, sperm count and fertility levels. Here are 10 foods you should avoid before sex.

What is the recommended intake?

Even though soy consumption has shown to have many health benefits in men such as reduced incidence of prostate cancer and prevention from cardiovascular diseases, there is no consensus on recommended intake of soy consumption in men. A small amount (1-2 servings) of soy consumption is considered safe.

Who should avoid eating it?

Men who are trying to start a family may want to avoid daily consumption of high amounts of soy or soy products. Read these 8 tips to boost sperm quality and count.

What can they replace it with?

Soy is recommended mainly for its protein content. Thus, for vegetarians who want to replace soy in their diet, milk, paneer, cheese, dals, pulses, mushrooms, quinoa and nuts are good options. For non-vegetarians, egg, poultry and lean cuts of meat are healthy options to replace soy.

Image source: Getty Images

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