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Benefits of soy

There is no denying that soy has many health benefits, which are coming form the quality of the soy proteins and from health promoting phytochemicals, such as isoflavones, phytates, saponins and polyphenols. Below you can find the main health benefits of soy.

Bone health

Although soy products, such as soy milk and tempeh, are not a rich source of calcium, they can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Several studies have suggested that soy isoflavones may be a factor in helping to prevent bone loss. The soy isoflavone genistein seems to inhibit bone breakdown and may have similar effects than estrogens in maintaining bone tissue. A recent meta-study carried out by Pan Wei showed that soy isoflavones supplements significantly increase bone mineral density in women [1].
Replacing animal protein with soy protein may also help preventing calcium loss from your bones. Diets high in animal protein cause more calcium loss through the urine. In addition, commercial soy milk is often supplemented with calcium and tofu may contain a lot of calcium from the added coagulant calcium sulphate.

Menopausal symptoms

Epidemiological data show that Asian women suffer less from hot flashes and night sweats than Western women. Most symptoms of menopause are caused by low estrogen levels. Estrogens play a role in the body temperature control. Soy isoflavones can through their estrogen-like effect control these menopausal symptoms, especially hot flushes.

Heart health

In countries with high soy intake the rates of cardiovascular diseases is relatively low. Research suggests that soy may help to prevent heart disease by reducing total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol and preventing plaque buildup in the arteries, which could lead to stroke or heart attack. These health benefits are also mainly attributes to the soy isoflavones and saponins. The soy isoflavone genistein may increase the flexibility of blood vessels, whereas saponins may have potential to reduce blood cholesterol.

Cancer prevention

Several studies have indicated that a regular intake of soy foods may help to prevent hormone related cancers such as breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer. A Chinese study found that high dietary intake of soy isoflavones was associated with lower risk of recurrence among postmenopausal women with estrogen and progesterone positive breast cancer and those receiving the anti-cancer drug anastrozole. The scientists suggest that the beneficial effects of soy isoflavones is exerted through their interaction with estrogen and progesterone receptors. Isoflavones have antiangiogenic activity, which means that they interfere with blood vessel growth, an important anticancer property.

High protein content

Soy products such as tofu, tempeh and soy milk are very rich in protein, which is of very high biological quality as it contains all essential amino acids. In addition, the amino acids of soy combine very well with those of cereals, such as wheat, rice and corn. The soy protein is especially important for vegans.

References

[1] Systematic review of soy isoflavone supplements on osteoporosis in women. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine. 2012 Mar;5(3):243-8.

Comments

Is it safe to eat soy beans?

I am a soy milk consumer and I have been reading all I can about this subject. Thanks to all the messages here, I realized that even being very literate about it is not enough! I read the articles suggested in some of the answers like the one at www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53327 . I know people will say that there is no scientific foundation for the article but when you read V. Messina, MPH, RD & M. Messina, PhD's - Is It Safe to Eat Soy? www.veganoutreach.org/health/soysafe.html you realize how soy is controversial and how it has been a subject to different researches worldwide, although the authors conclude that you should continue to eat soy. Why in Europe consumers are very strict in which type of soy are you consuming? I don't even hear people talking about transgenic food and what it means to eat foreign DNA soy beans. Personally I am always intriged why so many women are with breast cancer, why girls are getting their first menstruation at the age of 9, why so much homosexuality? Definitely there is much more hormone-rich food today than ever before! Soy could be very well one of them, along with other circumstances. Soy is absolutely everywhere! Empirical evidences impulse men to think and therefore to do scientific researches, so please let us think without being accused of radicalism!


worldisavillage - 24 October 2013

Is it safe to eat soy beans?

I think it is safe no any harm to eat it.

smith2287 - 24 October 2013

Soy and bodybuilding

On the contary, there are more studies that show that soy and soy isoflavones may prevent cancer. There is also no evidence that soy can cause infertility. Asians, who consume a lot of soy, have no problems with their fertility. Soy protein is often used as protein source for commercial supplements for body builders. All stories about soy and infertility and pure anecdotal.

Hildegard - 25 October 2013

about soy

hello all things in moderation should be ok

ever thought of smoking drinking alchohol or plain and simple over eating and obesity and over drinking plain fruit juices or pop

what r the effects of those things on us?

thank you rao

rao - 11 November 2013

soy and alcohol

I have read that soy can help detoxify after (before?) the consumption of alcohol. Can someone elaborate on that for me?
thanks

Petey - 22 April 2014

soy and alcohol

It is not advisable to counteract the adverse effect of alcohol by eating some type of food. Instead, you should drink alcohol in moderation. That said, there are indeed a few scientific studies on rodents (not humans!) that demonstrate the protective effects of soy on alcohol-induced liver damage. I don't know why, but all these studies were conducted in the Far East. A Chinese study (1) found that mice supplemented with soy extract rich in saponins prevented alcohol-induced abnormal retention of lipids, inflammation and swelling of the liver. Korean researchers concluded that soy protein may positively mediate the effects of alcohol on liver cells and general liver functions in rats (2). In addition, total cholesterol and total lipid levels were significantly reduced. Finally, an Indian study found that soy protein increased glutathione content and catalase activity in the liver of rats fed with alcohol (3).

(1) Effect of soyasaponins-rich extract from soybean on acute alcohol-induced hepatotoxicity in mice. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Feb 23;59(4):1138-44.
(2) Ameliorative effects of soy 11S protein on liver damage and hyperlipidemia in alcohol-fed rats. Biol Pharm Bull. 2004 Oct;27(10):1636-41.
(3) Antiatherogenic and antiperoxidative effects of garlic and soy proteins in alcohol fed rats.
Indian J Exp Biol. 2009 Mar;47(3):169-75.

Erik - 22 April 2014

Gastritis

Can soya help in gastritis?

jostina ngima nderi - 23 May 2014

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