Article Summary:What are the many benefits of soy protein / soybeans?
The humble soybean boasts some extraordinary benefits. This nutritional powerhouse has stayed under wraps for too long. Apart from being the only vegetable protein all 22 amino acids essential for our health and well being, the humble soybean has many other virtues. Read on to discover just how incredible this food source can promote your health and well being.
One of the ways that soy seems to promote heart health is thanks to its high content of isoflavones. Isoflavones are a class of phytochemicals, which are compounds found only in plants which have strong antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants are compounds that prevent or repair damage to cells caused by pollution, sunlight, and normal body processes. These elements cause oxidation in our body, which produces dangerous chemical compounds called free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive and have the potential to damage DNA, causing mutations that can result in the malignant transformation of cells. Free radicals can easily cause harm to the immune system, whose cells divide often. They may also be responsible for some of the changes of aging.
Soy isoflavones block the chemical reactions that generate free radicals in the first place, and destroy the ones that have already been formed.
So what are some of the specific health benefits of this nutritional powerhouse?
1. Reduce risk of heart disease. Soy's protein and isoflavones lower LDL (the bad) cholesterol and decrease blood clotting (thrombosis), which reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. In one study, people who drank a "milk shake" containing 25g of soy protein for nine weeks experienced, on average, a 5% reduction in LDL cholesterol. And people with the highest LDL levels experienced a 11% drop. (For each 10% to 15% drop in the LDL level, the risk of a heart attack decreases 20% to 25%).
In 1999, the FDA approved a dietary health claim for soy foods, recommending an average daily intake of 25 grams of soy protein, with soy isoflavones, in addition to a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet, to reduce the risk of heart disease.
2. Protection against cancer. 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.
Isoflavones act against cancer cells in a way similar to many common cancer-treating drugs. Population-based studies show a strong association between consumption of isoflavones and a reduced risk of breast and endometrial cancer. Women who ate the most soy products and other foods rich in isoflavones reduced their risk of endometrial cancer by 54%.
3. Counter the effects of endometriosis. The phytoestrogens (isoflavones) in soy products may help to offset the action of the body's natural estrogen, which is often responsible for instigating the monthly pain, heavy bleeding and other symptoms of endometriosis. 4. Protect against prostate problems. Eating soy products may protect against enlargement of the male prostate gland. The size of the prostate gland tends to increase with age, causing various types of urinary difficulties, including frequent nighttime awakenings.
5. Guard against osteoporosis. 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. There is evidence to suggest that isoflavones may also assist in creating new bone.
One study of postmenopausal women found that consuming 40 grams of soy protein a day resulted in a significant increase in bone mineral density in the spine, an area often weakened by osteoporosis.
6. Control symptoms of menopause and perimenopause. Soy's isoflavones help the body regulate estrogen when this hormone is declining or fluctuating, which helps alleviate many menopausal and PMS symptoms. Research has shown that soy isoflavones can reduce menopausal hot flushes in women.
7. Help control diabetic conditions and kidney disease. Soy's protein and soluble fiber help regulate glucose levels and kidney filtration, which helps control diabetic conditions and kidney disease.
8. Help control weight gain. According to Dr David Heber in "The LA Shape Diet" women who are on a weight loss program, need about 100 grams of protein per day to fight against hunger and to build their best personal lean muscle shape whilst losing weight. Without the appropriate level of proteins in a low calorie diet, people and women in particular, risk of losing 1 pound of muscle for every 4 pounds of weight lost.
Dr Heber recommends soy-protein shakes or soy-protein fruit smoothies as a safe and healthy way to achieve fast and permanent weight loss. Apart from the wonderful health advantages of soy, this a safe protein source without the unwanted cholesterol and saturated fats that accompany animal protein sources.
Kim Beardsmore is an Independent Herbalife Distributor, weight loss coach and author of the online magazine Weight Loss Health. She has a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Biochemistry and Histology. For recipes, articles, a newsletter, and tips to burn fat, boost energy and block cravings, visit her website at weight-loss-health.com.au