Periodically we receive emails asking us why we persist in using soy in most of our products when:

  • Soy is one of the most genetically modified of all food crops.
  • Soy is one of the food crops which is most extensively associated with deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.
  • The phytoestrogens in soy have been alleged to be deleterious to human health.

We use soy in our flour blends for making Bread Loaves and Bread Rolls as well as for making Sweet Pastry and Savoury Pastry.  We use it to achieve a specific flavour profile as well as to improve the handling characteristics of both the bread doughs and the uncooked pastry.  In the case of Bread Loaves and Bread Rolls, the inclusion of soy flour in the flour blend increases the quantity of water which is retained in the final baked product, which reduces the rate at which the bread dries out and goes stale and hard.  The alternative to doing this would be to add artificial preservatives, which we are not prepared to do.

In answer to the other charges often laid against soy (and enumerated above), we would offer the following information…

Yes, soy is one of the most genetically modified of all food crops.  This is why we only use soy flour which has been certified GM-free.  None of our flours or other inputs contains or is sourced from genetically modified material.

It is also true that soy is one of the food crops which is most often associated with the destruction of Amazon and other native rainforest as a part of traditional “slash and burn” agriculture as practised in South and Central America.  However, Silly Yaks uses soy flours which are grown and processed wholly in Australia.  In this way we ensure that we do not in any way contribute to the destruction of native rainforest habitats in South America.

Finally, there is the question of whether or not the phytoestrogens found in unfermented raw soy products have a deleterious effect on human health generally and on male reproductive health in particular.  While some of the initial scientific studies of the effect of high levels of raw soy consumption on human health resulted in some rather strident claims to the effect that phytoestrogens can cause cancer, radically alter hormone levels and undermine male fertility, more recent research has thrown considerable doubt upon these early claims.

Phytoestrogens are not estrogens (steroidal hormones produced by the human body and part of the endocrine system) and their mechanisms of action and effect upon human hormone balance do not mimic estrogen.  Phytoestrogens are, in fact, found in most nuts, seeds, fresh fruit and fresh vegetables.  Examples of common foods which are high in phytoestrogens include: most legumes (including lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans and mung beans), linseed, ginseng, yams, rice, alfalfa, apples, carrots and pomegranates.  Not surprisingly, there is little suggestion in popular culture or elsewhere that we abstain from eating all of these foods.

The current state of scientific research tends to suggest that:

  • Moderate consumption of raw soy products has no demonstrably negative effects on human health.
  • Consumption of soy phytoestrogens cannot be demonstrated to have any significant effect on male health or fertility.
  • Consumption of phytoestrogens from soy products is likely to be associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.
  • Soy is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, fats which are known to be highly beneficial to human health and which are generally not consumed in sufficient quantities in a Western diet.
  • Consumption of phytoestrogens from soy provides a net benefit to post-menopausal women, especially in the maintenance of bone mass and the prevention of osteoporosis.

Overall, we consider that the small amounts of soy that we use in our products do not pose any health risk to our customers.  In fact, as early onset osteoporosis is a common issue for sufferers of coeliac disease (both men and women), we consider that the inclusion of soy in our products is quite likely to provide a net benefit by increasing our customers’ intake of Omega 3 fatty acids whilst reducing their risk of osteoporosis.

Posted in: Soy