Soy is a complete protein, and soyfoods are rich in vitamins and minerals including folate, potassium and, in some cases, fiber. Benefits of soy include promoting heart health and healthy bones, preventing cancer and alleviating menopausal symptoms.

Soy beans contain high amounts of protein, including all essential amino acids (the only such vegetable source). Soy beans are also a rich source of calcium,iron,zinc,phosphorus,magnesium ,B-vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids and fiber.

Heart Health :

The cholesterol lowering effect of soy milk and its role of heart disease was widely recognized in the mid 90s when the results of a meta-analysis of 38 clinical studies were published. The results demonstrated that a diet with significant soy protein reduces Total Cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (the “Bad” cholesterol) and Triglycerides.

The average consumption in these studies was 47 grams per day of soy protein, which is a considerable amount. One way to include this is to try a soy protein beverage or powder that may add 20 grams preserving. Soy protein was effective even in people who were already following the American Heart Association’s 30 percent-fat diet. Soy protein appears to lower triglyceride levels while preserving HDL cholesterol.

Cancer:

Among all cancers, data on soy and préstate cancer seems to be the most promising; many studies support its role in the prevention and possible treatment of prostate cancer.

While some studies showed soy offers a protective effect against breast cancer, a few studies showed the estrogen-like effects in isoflavones may be harmful for women with breast cancer. American Institute for Cancer Research stresses that data on soy and breast cancer are not conclusive, and more work is needed to be done before any dietary recommendations can be made.

What we know at this point is the phytoestrogens in soy foods are “anti-estrogens”. In other words, they may block estrogen from reaching the receptors – therefore potentially protecting women from developing breast cancer. Studies found that pre-menopausal women may benefit from eating soy foods as their natural estrogen levels are high.

Antioxidants:

Soy’s protein and isoflavones provide antioxidants, reduce artery clogging plaque, improve blood pressure and promote healthy blood vessels, which protects the body from free radical damage, boosts the immune system, and lowers the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart disease, and hypertension (high blood pressure).

Six ways Soy Benefits:

  1. Soy’s protein and isoflavones lower LDL (the bad) cholesterol and decrease blood clotting (thrombosis), which reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  2. Soy’s protein and isoflavones provide antioxidants, reduce artery clogging plaque, improve blood pressure and promote healthy blood vessels, which protects the body from free radical damage, boosts the immune system, and lowers the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart disease, and hypertension (high blood pressure).
  3. Soy’s soluble fiber protects the body from many digestive related cancers, such as colon and rectal cancer. While its isoflavones may protect the body from many hormone-related cancers, like breast, endometrial (uterine) and prostate cancer.
  4. Soy’s protein enhances the body’s ability to retain and better absorb calcium in the bones. While its isoflavones slow bone loss and inhibit bone breakdown, which helps prevent osteoporosis.
  5. Soy’s isoflavones help the body regulate estrogen when this hormone is declining or fluctuating, which helps alleviate many menopausal and PMS symptoms.
  6. Soy’s protein and soluble fiber help regulate glucose levels and kidney filtration, which helps control diabetic conditions and kidney disease.

Soy’s Faces:

Though soy may seem like a new and different kind of food for many Americans, it actually is found in a number of products already widely consumed. For example, soybean oil accounts for 79 percent of the edible fats used annually in the United States, according to the United Soybean Board. A glance at the ingredients for commercial mayonnaises, margarines, salad dressings, or vegetable shortenings often reveals soybean oil high on the list.

But the health claim only covers the form that includes soy protein. This form can be incorporated into the diet in a variety of ways to help reach the daily intake of 25 grams of soy protein considered beneficial.

While not every form of the following foods will qualify for the health claim, these are some of the most common sources of soy protein:

Tofu is made from cooked puréed soybeans processed into a custard-like cake. It has a neutral flavor and can be stir-fried, mixed into “smoothies,” or blended into a cream cheese texture for use in dips or as a cheese substitute. It comes in firm, soft and silken textures.

“Soymilk,” the name some marketers use for a soy beverage, is produced by grinding dehulled soybeans and mixing them with water to form a milk-like liquid. It can be consumed as a beverage or used in recipes as a substitute for cow’s milk. Soymilk, sometimes fortified with calcium, comes plain or in flavors such as vanilla, chocolate and coffee. For lactose-intolerant individuals, it can be a good replacement for dairy products.

Soy flour is created by grinding roasted soybeans into a fine powder. The flour adds protein to baked goods, and, because it adds moisture, it can be used as an egg substitute in these products. It also can be found in cereals, pancake mixes, frozen desserts, and other common foods.

Textured soy protein is made from defatted soy flour, which is compressed and dehydrated. It can be used as a meat substitute or as filler in dishes such as meatloaf.

Tempeh is made from whole, cooked soybeans formed into a chewy cake and used as a meat substitute.

Miso is a fermented soybean paste used for seasoning and in soup stock.

Soy protein also is found in many “meat analog” products, such as soy sausages, burgers, franks, and cold cuts, as well as soy yogurts and cheese, all of which are intended as substitutes for their animal-based counterparts.

Since not all foods that contain soy ingredients will meet the required conditions for the health claim, consumers should check the labels of products to identify those most appropriate for a heart-healthy diet. Make sure the products contain enough soy protein to make a meaningful contribution to the total daily diet without being high in saturated fat and other unhealthy substances.

Sources: HHNEWS, Health Castle

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