The FDA Was Wrong About Soy: Here’s What You Need to Know

The facts about the recent soy debate, simplified

Soy is found in edamame, tofu, and (of course) soy milk, among other foods.

The Food and Drug Administration just released a statement admitting that, well… They were wrong. “We are proposing a rule to revoke a health claim,” said Susan Mayne, director of the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, in the release. “For the first time, we have considered it necessary,” she explained, revealing that they have never taken back a claim like this before.

The previous claim held that soy, a popular plant-based protein and the building block of tofu, reduces the risk of heart disease in those who eat it. Soy-based products have been at liberty to flaunt this claim on their packaging, asserting that their food or drink can mitigate heart disease risk. Similar health claims are common not only with soy products, but with other foods, as well.

“Since 1990, the FDA has been responsible for evaluating health claims on packaged foods to ensure that they are rooted in strong science,” expressed Mayne. “To date, we have authorized 12 such health claims, such as the effect of calcium and vitamin D in helping to lower the risk of osteoporosis or certain fruits and vegetables to lower the risk of cancer.”

This claim, however, may have missed the mark. Evidently, as the American Heart Association pointed out in 2008, while soy does have a direct link with cholesterol, it’s a bit of a stretch to say that this correlation also extends to a reduction of heart disease risk.

The the Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit that promotes nutrition, called out the FDA in 2016 over the same claim, advising that the agency reevaluate the claim in light of more recent research.

Once this research was considered closely, the release concedes, “Our review of that evidence has led us to conclude that the relationship between soy protein and heart disease does not meet the rigorous standard for an FDA-authorized health claim.” Soy didn’t make the cut, and the FDA no longer feels comfortable with companies flaunting the potential benefit on packaging.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that soy increases risk of heart disease — or that soy is in any way bad for you. It simply doesn’t have as strong a tie to heart health as was previously thought. And that the FDA, thrilled about the health implications of soy products, jumped just one foot too far in its health claims’ assumptions.


While we're bummed soy won't guarantee you a lower risk, consider eating one of these foods to reduce your risk of heart disease instead.