The European Union recently initiated the Benefit-Risk Assessment of Foods, or BRAFO program. Its purpose is to assess the benefits and safety of consuming specific foods, and one of the first foods to be assessed was soy. The scientific panel found that the beneficial effects of soy outweigh any potential risks. Consequently, the concluded that consuming 25 grams of soy protein per day, in contrast to the current negligible intake among Europeans, would translate to an overall benefit for the general adult population.
In regard to benefits, the panel considered the evidence for protective effects of soy against breast and prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as potential effects in improving bone health and cognitive function. The panel noted that the proposed benefits of soy are based on clinical and epidemiologic (population) studies whereas the concerns were based on animal studies and are not usually supported by data from human studies.
Consuming two to three servings of soy per day can provide twenty-five grams of soy protein. One serving is a cup of soymilk or one-half cup of tofu or edamame.
Watzl B, Gelencser E, Hoekstra J, et al. Application of the BRAFO-tiered approach for benefit-risk assessment to case studies on natural foods. Food Chem Toxicol 50 Suppl 4:S699-709, 2012.