The most widely cultivated legume in the world, soy is a crop native to China who have always considered it an essential ingredient of their diet. It can be a great substitute for meat and dairy products and works well for people who are lactose intolerant. They can be consumed fresh or in the form of miso, tempeh, tofu, soy milk or other processed forms of soybeans. There is a vast difference in the way soy is consumed in the east and the west and hence the difference that is there in its nutritional contributions to health among these people.
The Health Benefits Of Soy Are
There is ample fiber content in soya beans hence its makes it good for the digestive system of the body. It helps in smooth functioning of the bowels and prevents constipation. Also, diabetes type -2 and cholesterol levels can be controlled with the fiber content.
Soy contains various minerals and phytoestrogens called isoflavones that lower the risk of breast cancer in women. Women should add soy to their diet as it is known to balance hormones and reduces the risk of many diseases women can be prone to.
Not only breast cancer but various other women related diseases like menopausal symptoms, PMS, endometriosis and overall bone health can be tackled with the intake of soybeans. Soy contains phytoestrogens that balance the oestrogen and progesterone levels in the body by blocking excess oestrogen production. Symptoms of menopause like irritability and hot flashes are known to reduce with the intake of soy.
Soy is a great source of plant protein and as opposed to animal protein which increases the cholesterol levels, plant protein keeps the cholesterol level at optimum. Also, soybeans contain phytosterols that inhibit the excess absorption of cholesterol into the system and hence control their levels. The high fiber content also contributes to good cholesterol levels.
When the cholesterol levels are under control, the heart functions well and the risk of cardiovascular diseases is minimised. The people who replace the animal and dairy fat with soy protein also have healthy functioning hearts. The blood pressure of postmenopausal women is said to be under control with the consumption of soybeans.
Foods that have concentrated amounts of proteins can help in reducing hunger and appetite. They block the depositing of fatty acids into the cells that lead to more accumulation of fats. Hence, people who want to control their weights should add soy to their meals.
The risk of type 2 diabetes is controlled with the intake of soy. Soy has sufficient amounts of fiber and can control insulin metabolism and blood sugar levels to benefit patients of diabetes.However, more research needs to be done in this field.
Soy can be had in various forms and gives immense nutritional advantages to the health.It is rich in calcium and vitamin K that is good for the bones. Contains iron that is responsible for the supply of oxygen to various parts of the body. The proteins and minerals take care of the heart and nerve health and even diseases like COPD, and periodontal diseases are known to benefit from the intake of soy. The isoflavones are great antioxidants for the body which protect the body from numerous diseases.
Soy is rich in calcium that is necessary for maintaining strong and healthy bones. It also contains vitamin K, which is found more abundantly in fermented soy foods that control the bone mineral density and overall bone health.
Fermented soy foods like natto, miso, tofu, fermented soy sauces and tempeh are all rich in vitamin K and act as probiotics in the gut. They can stay in the intestinal tract for a few days and provide its benefits and increase the supply of good bacteria in the system.