In recent years, there has been some confusion about whether or not soy is safe for breast cancer survivors. It’s to that end, that we’re happy to share a new report from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) which found that, upon review of existing research, moderate consumption of soy is safe for breast cancer patients and survivors, and in fact is now listed in the AICR’s Food That Fight Cancer list.
Soy consumption does not lead to increased estrogen levels in humans and may even have potential benefits among women receiving certain breast cancer treatments or with certain tumor characteristics.
As many families shift toward plant-based diets to improve health and reduce costs, soy is often the protein of choice. The reasons are clear – soy is one of the top food sources of high-quality, complete protein that may help lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease and provide other important health benefits. One serving of soy is equal to 1 cup of soy milk, ½ cup tofu or tempeh, ½ cup cooked edamame, or 1 ounce of soy nuts. Such soy foods provide fiber, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids, and are low in saturated fat and cholesterol-free.
Although the recommendations for soy in the diet of breast cancer patients have long been the source of considerable debate, current research and guidelines from the American Cancer Society suggest that soy foods can be part of a healthy diet for breast cancer patients and survivors.
The confusion over the health effects of soy stems from concern over the theory that soy isoflavones, plant-based compounds found naturally in soyfoods, could potentially promote estrogen-dependent breast cancer growth. Human clinical trials have not supported this theory; rather they have found that soy isoflavones do not promote the growth of breast cells or increase breast tissue density, both of which are markers of breast cancer risk.
Despite this, many women with breast cancer are told to avoid soy “just in case” there could be negative effects. The results of three major studies suggest that avoiding soy is unnecessary, and that soy may in fact have important health benefits.
The most recent study, presented this week at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting, showed that eating soy foods such as soymilk and tofu did not increase the risk of cancer recurrence in over 18,000 breast cancer survivors. Lead researcher Xiao Shu, MD, PhD noted “our results indicate it may be beneficial for women to include soy food as part of a healthy diet, even if they have had breast cancer.”
These findings are consistent with other recent research, including a large study of over 5,000 breast cancer patients that found that soy food intake was associated with improved prognosis.4 In fact, patients with the highest intake of soy foods (about two servings of soy foods/day) had a reduced risk of tumor recurrence. A third study of 2,000 breast cancer patients showed similar positive effects of soy.
The latest data indicate whole soy foods (such as edamame, soymilk or tofu) can play a role in healthy diets for breast cancer patients and survivors. Recommendations in a recent editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association concurred, stating “Clinicians can advise their patients with breast cancer that soy foods are safe to eat and that these foods may offer some protective benefit for long-term health. Patients with breast cancer can be assured that enjoying a soy latte or indulging in pad thai with tofu causes no harm, and when consumed in plentiful amounts, may reduce the risk of disease recurrence.”
I grew up a milk drinker. And before starting at WhiteWave the thought of trying soy milk never crossed my mind. Yeah, I’ll admit it. Despite being exposed to, and responsible for helping to market our Silk brand on a daily basis, I had no real desire to try it. Like I said, I was a milk drinker.
At least until one faithful morning a few years back, when after stopping by the Wave Café to grab a bowl of cereal I found that the milk was all gone. Only thing available – Silk Vanilla Soy Milk. So I figured what the heck… I’ll try it. Now every time I eat Cheerios, I opt for the soy. It’s seriously delicious.
Now to be clear I haven’t given up on milk completely but I’ve got a good balance going between the two, and Silk’s got a new campaign to challenge you to do the same. All you need to do is take ten days, and swap your milk, for Silk.
Head on over to the website for tips on how to get started. The site offers coupons, a 10-day plan with tips and ideas to help you make the swap. And the site also includes information about the nutritional, taste and environmental benefits of using Silk’s plant-based milks.
To help you get inspired, Check out a few of the videos produced by some of our loyal Silk drinkers as part of a 10-Day Challenge contest….
Manufacturing facilities are sometimes the unsung heroes of food companies. However, without them, we couldn’t bring consumers the safe, high quality and delicious products that they’ve come to expect from WhiteWave.
We have a tremendous group of people (nearly 1,000) at our five WhiteWave facilities, working tirelessly every day to make the WhiteWave products you love. These are world-class plants, folks—thanks to our top-notch leadership, people, and safety and quality processes.
I want to shine a spotlight on one of our plants in particular – our Bridgeton, N.J. plant. If you’re a Silk fan, Bridgeton is Mecca. It’s a Silk-only facility, making Soymilk and PureAlmond milk. Bridgeton is critical to WhiteWave’s continued growth in the area of plant-based beverages.
The whole Bridgeton plant team recently received WhiteWave’s highest honor. You see, we launched a new internal recognition program at WhiteWave called the Wave Awards, which recognizes the WhiteWave team that has best lived the company’s values and mission and contributed to the success of the business over the past year.
Out of the nearly 70 employees and teams nominated, the first-ever Team Wave Award went to the 106 employees at Bridgeton for best exemplifying the company’s mission to be the Earth’s Favorite Food Company and for its unwavering commitment to the company’s values. The honor even got a mention in their local media!
So what did they do to win the award?
They kept sustainability goals front-and-center by greatly reducing the amount of waste produced at the plant and putting an aggressive recycling program in place:
They helped support one of WhiteWave’s most successful product launches by producing high quality Silk PureAlmond milk.
They achieved a remarkable safety milestone of one million people hours without a Lost Time Accident thanks to an employee-led approach to safety.
Part of the deal in winning this award is that WhiteWave’s senior leadership sponsors a team celebration. So Bridgeton recently threw a big party to commemorate the win. Please join me in congratulating WhiteWave’s Bridgeton team for all they do to contribute to Silk and WhiteWave’s success.
Earlier this month, our Silk brand redesigned and relaunched soynutrition.com. What, you might ask, is soynutrition.com? It’s simply what the URL implies – a site devoted to being a resource about all things related to soy and nutrition. And while it’s sponsored by Silk, it’s not really at all about Silk and our products. Rather, it’s meant to be a resource for health care professionals or anyone else who wants to know more about the latest in soy science and soy nutrition.
Check it out and you can get schooled on the truth and myths about soy, find the latest debrief (in terms you can actually understand) about new studies relating to soy, or ask an expert your burning question about soy. Answers are provided by Silk’s Scientific Advisory Board and internal nutrition experts.
There’s also a health care professional resource center that includes a series of patient educational handouts on soy’s health benefits and tips on how to incorporate soy foods into a healthy diet. We like to call this kind of thing “evolving the category”, or, in layperson’s terms, giving people information that’s about more than just our brand and letting them make the right choice for their health based on science and expert opinion.
How can I be sure that your Silk soybeans are sourced from farms in the U.S.?
We gave this answer:
Currently, you have to take our word for it. Not good enough? We absolutely agree. By the end of this year, we will provide you with complete traceability regarding the source of our soybeans. You’ll be able to take your Silk cartons, enter a number into our website and track where the beans were grown and harvested.
Now, we’re following through on that promise. Click here to trace your beans…
Last week, the Dr. Oz show featured a segment discussing Soy, and how it fits into a health diet. Following the show I got to sit down with our resident nutritionist, Andrea Carrothers to dive in a little deeper and address some of the questions I had following the segment…
TGM: During the Dr. Oz segment, he mentioned that people should eat “Whole Soy” as part of a healthy diet. What does Whole Soy mean?
AC: Whole soy foods are minimally processed to preserve the naturally occurring nutrients found in the soybean, including high quality protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Some examples of whole soy foods are edamame, tempeh, soymilk, and tofu. Eating foods made with whole soybeans ensures that you are getting all of the benefits of the soybean, rather than just individual components that may be found in soy supplements or more processed soy products.
TGM: Is Silk a Whole Soy Product?
AC: Yes. Silk soymilk is made with whole, natural, non-GMO soybeans grown in North America. Whole bean soymilk, like Silk, is made by crushing the beans and removing some of the indigestible fiber, then blending with water, flavoring, and nutritious fortifications such as calcium and Vitamin D. Making soymilk from whole beans preserves not only the protein, but also other important components like isoflavones, omega-3 fats, and some fiber. Some other soymilks are made with isolated soy protein, which is more highly and chemically processed.
TGM: What’s the difference as it relates to Whole Soy and the Processed Soy Dr. Oz suggested should be avoided?
AC: Soybeans are a unique natural source of high-quality nutrition. In addition to complete protein, soybeans also provide fiber, minerals like iron and potassium, and naturally occurring ALA omega-3 fatty acids. They are low in saturated fat and, like all plant foods, cholesterol-free. Although soy supplements and more processed soyfoods may offer specific health benefits for particular conditions, for overall nutrition, soy supplements and foods made from isolated soy protein may not offer the same well-rounded balance of nutrients as foods made from whole soy. In order to reap maximum benefit from soy in the diet, select minimally processed soyfoods that preserve as much of the soy plant’s inherent nutrition as possible. Tofu, tempeh, edamame and soymilk made from whole soybeans are all good choices.
TGM: The Dr. Oz segment also mentioned that people should only have one serving of Whole Soy a day, can people feel safe having more than one serving?
AC: Yes. Experts agree that soy foods can play a valuable role in a healthy balanced diet for men, women, and children alike. There is no evidence to suggest that intake of multiple servings of whole soy foods has detrimental health effects. In fact, soy foods have been shown to have many health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and potentially reducing the risk for certain cancers. The American Cancer Society concurs, stating that breast cancer patients can consume soyfoods like soymilk, edamame, and tofu regularly, suggesting that moderate amounts of soy (up to three servings per day) can be a part of a healthy diet. Most nutrition experts agree that replacing some of the animal protein in your diet with plant-based protein such as soy, beans or nuts may have significant health benefits. In fact, a high consumption of plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes (including soybeans) is associated with lower rates of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Soyfoods including tofu, tempeh, edamame and whole-bean soymilk all offer versatile and appealing ways for people to bring more plant-based foods into their everyday diets.
Big thanks to Andrea for her time. If you have any other questions about Soy or any of our other brands, feel free to add them in the comments below and we’ll make sure they get answered…
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The Grazing Mind is a blog about current and social events related to the products, culture and business of WhiteWave.