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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Are edamame beans good or bad?

    My very fussy toddler doesnt eat any vegetables and is a very fussy eater! For some reason he LOVES edamame beans and will eat a bowl full happily. I've heard mixed things about Soy. Are they good for him/ bad for him? Some information is appreciated. Thank you.
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    Thanks

    Dr Beth Thomas

    Paediatrician

    Beth works at the Angliss Hospital (Ferntree Gully) which has paediatric inpatients and outpatients and a Special Care Nursery. She also works at Monash Medical … View Profile

    Edamame beans are fine for toddlers to eat, they contain plenty of fibre and hopefully will start him on other similar foods such as snow peas or sugar snap peas, or broad beans without the pods.

    The controversy about soy is because soy contains phytoestrogen, which is the plant-based form of the female hormone estrogen. Two subclasses of phytoestrogens are isoflavones and lignans, and you will see all three terms used in the medical literature. Phytoestrogens have had many health benefits and concerns raised, mostly in relation to hopes that they would help with menopausal symptoms in women, or modify breast cancer risk but neither of these appear to be the case.

    In relation to consumption of soy by children, I could only find two studies which looked at soy formula ingestion - where soy is the main ingredient of the diet for several months at least. These studies followed the children into adolescence to study any hormonal changes or effects but found no adverse effects on either hormones or fertility. (Klein 1998, Strom et al 2001) There was one study on phytoestrogen consumption by adult men, which showed no change in sperm production or quality.

    There have been some animal studies which showed reduced fertility in cheetahs when on a diet high in soy, but the effects were reversed when they stopped consuming the soy. There have also been some studies which link high level consumption with reproductive problems in sheep, and it was these studies which lead to the human studies - however no similar results have been found in humans. Here is a very long and rather techincal summary of the research data up to 2003: http://www.comilac.com.tr/uploads/pdf/22comfuga.pdf

    The Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR) of the National Toxicology Program in the USA looked comprehensively at phytoestrogen consumption and toxicity in 2006 and concluded that although there is no conclusive proof, there is no evidence for concern about dietary consumption of phytoestrogens.

    This is a comprehensive (but rather technical) summary by the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) in the USA: http://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Phytoestrogens_BiomonitoringSummary.html

    The final concern about soy which mostly comes from the USA is the concern about genetic modification of the soy beans themselves, however this is not a concern in Australia as we do not have genetically modified soybeans here.

  • Nicky @team healthshare

    HealthShare Member

    Thank you so much for that useful information and sources of reading- you have put my mind to rest. I will try other ‘beans’ as you've suggested. Thank you.

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