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