Soy is not only nutritious and delicious, but it also has lots of uses and benefits for those who are particular about what makes up their diet. There are also many exciting ways of enjoying soy. This food item comes from soybean, a legume similar to beans. It is a protein that provides a very healthy option, especially for those who want to cut down on animal protein. This is why soy is a prevalent and versatile food for vegetarians.
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Apart from being a significant source of protein, soy also provides a good source of fats, carbohydrates, fiber, and essential minerals, especially copper, calcium, potassium, and manganese. So, this article will explore the benefits of soy in everyday meals and how best to incorporate them into your diet. But first, let’s look at a brief overview of soy.
What Is Soy?
Almost everywhere you turn, there’s a soy product staring you in the face. To some, it’s a wonder crop; to others, it’s just a legume with many uses. But soybeans, as you must have noticed, looks like beans (legume) and are native to most parts of Asia, especially China. Asians have consumed soy for thousands of years and have the most uses for it. Many countries have recognized the benefits of international soy, so it’s safe to call it a superfood. Because soy is very rich in protein, it is a significant ingredient in the diet of vegetarians.
However, the significant advantage of soy, which is also why vegetarians love it so much, is that it can be processed into drinks, snacks, and solid food. Soy milk and tofu are the two brightest examples in this regard. Soy milk is a perfect replacement for lactose-intolerant people, and tofu can be processed into meat alternatives. That way, vegetarians have soy as an excellent source of protein and energy.
Lots of people who consume soy do so because of its noted health benefits. From where does soy derive these benefits? First, it is known that soybeans contain phytoestrogens, which help prevent diseases associated with the heart. Moreover, soy also assists in building strong bones and even has some anti-cancer properties.
So, avoid falling for the claim that soy is only helpful for vegetarians. The benefits are amazing for everyone. It would be best if you thus considered including soy in your diet. So, what do you stand to gain when soy is included in your whole food ingredient?
Benefits of Soy as a Whole-food Ingredient
1. Soy Provides A Healthy Supply Of Protein
Soy is a fantastic source of plant protein. However, the advantage of soy is that it provides a full dose of all essential amino acids. Some studies even suggest that soy protein is similar to animal protein in composition. For those in need of a good supply of protein, soy provides it.
2. Soy Provides A Good Dose Of Antioxidants
One of the constituents of soy isoflavones, an antioxidant that helps the body cope better against natural free radicals, which damage the body. These naturally occurring antioxidants make it easier for the body to cope as aging sets in. As a result, the consumption of soy keeps the body fresh. It also aids the body when a person is recovering from illness.
3. Soy May Protect the Heart
One of the greatest beneficiaries of soy in the body is the heart. The compound responsible for this function in soy is known as phytosterols. What they do is reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the body. Cholesterol inhibits the free flow of blood to the heart, which is why soy in the diet can help blood flow to the heart, protecting it.
Studies involving humans and animals revealed that soy consumption protects the heart. This can be traced to its ability to fight inflammation – one of the main reasons behind heart issues.
4. Soy Can Reduce the Risk of Obesity
The antioxidant Isoflavones is also noted to help reduce the buildup of fats in the body. That means soy consumption can reduce the risk of obesity, a very common and dangerous condition.
Based on a study involving rats, researchers introduced soy proteins and other food items to overweight rats. They also introduced casein to other obese rats, which were the control group for three weeks. At the end of the three weeks, they discovered that rats fed on soy protein had lost considerable weight compared to those on casein. They also had low plasma and triglyceride levels.
5. Soy May Reduce the Risk of Diabetes
The antioxidant Isoflavones may help in fighting diabetes by improving the sensitivity of insulin in the body. When the hormone isn’t sensitive enough or deficient, it may prevent the conversion of sugar in the body into useful energy. Consumption of soy can therefore help fight diabetes.
Soy contains phytochemicals which are strong antioxidants. Optimum consumption can protect the body from oxidative damage, which triggers and even worsens diabetes. They may also help address issues like hyperlipidemia, poor glucose tolerance, etc.
6. Soy Can Protect Against Cancer
Consumption of soy is noted to reduce the risk of certain cancers in the body. Although the cancer-fighting properties of soy are still being researched, women who take soy are known to report fewer cases of breast cancer.
7. Soy Helps Women Fight Menopausal Symptoms
One other noted advantage of soy is that it helps women to manage menopausal symptoms better. This is mainly due to the isoflavones known as Phyto-oestrogens. Phytoestrogens are known to function in a similar way tithe hormone estrogen, which can be helpful in the management of symptoms such as mood swings during menopause.
8. Any Risks?
The risks associated with consuming soy are limited, but the commonest is its goitrogenic nature, which can interfere with the thyroid gland. Consumption of soy may lead to higher levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone, although this was observed only in women. This is believed to be due to photo-estrogens, which affect women. However, this condition is only noticed when there’s overconsumption, meaning that eating soy at moderate levels won’t cause any harm.
While lots of people have associated soy with vegan diets, the benefits are essential for as many people as possible. From the heart to the bone to anti-cancer properties, soy has many benefits for the body. Soy consumption has no known risks, but overconsumption may lead to stimulating thyroid hormones, especially in women.