Foods such as tofu, tempeh, miso, soy milk and soy flour all derive from soybeans. Soybeans provide complete protein and can be part of a nutritious and balanced diet. You may need to limit your soybean intake, however, if you have health problems such as gout or an allergy that can be aggravated by soy.
Nutrition in Soybeans
According to the National Soy Research Library, the nutritional content of soybeans depends on whether they are mature or green. One serving of mature soybeans, which is 1/2 cup, contains 149 calories, 14.3 grams of protein, 8.5 grams of carbohydrates and 7.7 grams of fat. A serving of edamame, or young, green soybeans, contains 127 calories, 11.1 grams of protein, 10.0 grams of carbohydrate and 5.8 grams of fat. Soybeans are an excellent source of protein, and MedlinePlus.com explains that the protein in soy is similar to protein from animal sources.
Soy and Cancer
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or NCCAM, reports some concern that soybeans and other products made with soy may increase your risk of developing breast, ovarian or uterine cancer. Soy contains phytochemicals known as isoflavones that are similar to estrogen. Breast, ovarian and uterine cancer cells can divide more rapidly when estrogen is present. In theory, the isoflavones in soy may also stimulate these cells. However, some studies have found that people who eat more soy protein have a lower risk of developing breast cancer, the Harvard School of Public Health explains. As a result, the effect of soy on cancer risk still needs further study, and there is currently no conclusive evidence that soy increases your risk for any type of cancer.
Soybeans and Gout
Soybeans may also be bad for you if you have gout. Gout is a type of arthritis caused by uric acid building up in the fluid in your joints, resulting in intense inflammation. One thing that can trigger an attack of gout is the ingestion of purines, a chemical that gets converted into uric acid. Soybeans have a moderate amount of purines, MedLinePlus states, so if you have gout you may need to avoid soybeans or other foods made with soy.
If you eat soybeans, you may develop some mild gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bloating, nausea and constipation, NCCAM notes. Some people also have an allergy to soy and develop a rash or problems with breathing when they consume soybeans. If you have a known allergy to soy, an increased risk of breast cancer or a history of gout, soybeans may be bad for you, but otherwise this food is safe when consumed in the appropriate quantities.