Soybean is hugely popular as a meat alternative, but there are many other benefits of this wondrous legume, which is often ignored. Totally Vegan Buzz brings you the definitive guide to soybean.
Soya bean made from the Glycine Max legume is a rich source of proteins and antioxidants among many other nutrients. Its popularity has long transcended its Asian origins to become a major commodity crop worldwide.
Although 90% of soybean crops are used to feed farm animals, the versatile legume is a healthy alternative to include in your diet for what it brings to the table.
Soybean is used to make several products including soy flour, soy protein, tofu, soy milk, soy sauce, and soybean oil.
According to data from USDA Food Composition Databases, 100 gms of soybeans contains:
Protein – 36gms
Fat – 20gms
Carbohydrates – 30g
Fiber – 9gms
Isoflavones – 155mg
Phytosterols – 160mg
Types of soy foods
Traditional soy foods are categorized as fermented and unfermented.
Fermented soy foods include miso, natto, tempeh, and soy sauce, whereas unfermented soy foods include soy milk, tofu, fresh green soybeans (edamame), and soy nuts and sprouts.
Why is soya bean healthy?
Soya bean is packed with nutrients such as:
- Essential phytochemicals
Soybeans contain active molecules like tocopherols, phospholipids, sphingolipids, carotenoids, lunasin, and isoflavones, which are said to have a myriad of health benefits.
The isoflavones called daidzein and genistein have structures similar to estrogen which have potential benefits in breast cancer, menopause and endometriosis.
The protein quality in soya is considered comparable to animal protein. It contains all nine essential amino acids necessary for healthy muscles and bones. Plus, the bean has added benefits, such as reducing cholesterol as opposed to protein from animal sources, which is shown to raise cholesterol levels in comparative studies.
Soya beans contain compounds called phytosterols, which are structurally similar to cholesterol and steroid hormones. These plant compounds are said to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol by blocking absorption sites thus helping in lowering body cholesterol.
Barring 10%-15% of the total fat, most of the fat content in soy is polyunsaturated, including important omega-6 and omega-3 fats, and has zero cholesterol, which can be highly beneficial for the heart.
Soya is rich in fibre packing almost about 10 grams of fiber per cup, which is good for digestion and gut health.
It is a rich source of potassium, which is vital for the proper functioning of numerous processes in your body, including making your heart beat, helping your kidneys to filter waste, and allowing your nerves to conduct impulses.
It also contains other important minerals such as Molybdenum, vitamin K1 (an important micronutrient for its role in blood clotting), Folate, Copper, Manganese, Phosphorus, and Thiamine.
The beans also contain some anti-nutrients which impair digestion and interfere with protein and other micronutrient absorption such as goitrogens, lectins, phytates, saponins, tannins, and trypsin inhibitors, however, these compounds are often destroyed during processing methods used in the production of soy foods.
Benefits to humans
Due to its high nutritional profile, soy has shown to have several health benefits and experts suggest including soybean in your daily diet helps you gain a healthy body as well as experience general well-being. Some of its potential benefits are:
1. Destroys cancerous cells
Soybean’s high antioxidant levels may help prevent the proliferation of malignant cells. Antioxidants work to remove free radicals, which convert healthy cells into fatal tumors and cancer cells.
Numerous studies back the anticancer properties of soybean. A study showed that the antioxidants found in soybean were effective in killing numerous cancer cells and removing free radicals from the body.
One of many observational studies pointed out that consuming soy products helped reduce breast cancer risk.
Eating soy has also shown to help men who are at risk of developing prostate cancer, which is considered the second most common cancer and the fifth leading cause of death from cancer in men.
2. Regulates blood sugar
According to several studies, soy isoflavones may reduce the risk of diabetes because they possess the ability to increase insulin receptors in the body. Some researchers say soya beans allow cells to absorb more glucose by increasing insulin sensitivity.
3. Supports a healthy pregnancy
Pregnant women are advised to eat soy-based organic products because soybean is rich in folic acid and vitamin B complex. These nutrients are important to prevent neural tube defects in infants.
Nutrition is critical in pregnancy and it is important to consult an experienced healthcare professional to include the list of things to eat during pregnancy.
4. Helps in menopause
During menopause, estrogen levels drop leading to a host of unpleasant symptoms such as sweating, hot flashes, and mood swings. Research indicates that isoflavones from soy could help reduce menopausal symptoms and the effect is more pronounced in women, who produce equol-a type of gut bacteria, which is able to convert isoflavones into equol.
A 35 study review showed that postmenopausal women recorded a 14% increase in their estrogen) levels after supplementing their diet with soy isoflavone supplements.
5. Strengthens bones
Studies on women suffering from osteoporosis showed that soy isoflavones were effective in restoring bone mineral density without causing side effects such as increased risk of stroke, breast cancer, and coronary heart disease normally seen in patients on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Soybeans are rich in zinc, selenium, copper, magnesium, and calcium, which helps promote new bone tissue growth, strengthen the existing tissue, and speed up the bone healing process.
6. Aids weight loss
The high protein content of soybean helps you stay fuller reducing the cravings of eating at odd hours. Moreover, since it is a complete protein, it enhances muscle protein synthesis. Several studies have indicated that dietary soy protein has beneficial effects on obesity by lowering plasma cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
7. Improves sleep
According to health professionals, soybeans may help you sleep better since it is rich in magnesium, which is linked to improving the quality, restfulness, and duration of your sleep.
8. Improves skin tone
Studies indicate that the phytonutrients of soybeans possess anti-inflammatory, collagen-stimulating, antioxidant, skin lightening, and UV protective properties, which improve skin health.
Soybean trypsin inhibitors are said to reduce pigment deposition whereas studies have shown that anthocyanins in soybeans inhibit melanin production.
Soybeans are one of the most nutritionally rich foods on this planet. Including them to your diet can do wonders for your overall health and well-being.
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