Health Boost: Why Soy Makes Sense

Benefits of Soy

I say get more soy in your diet! Soy is a high quality protein that you shouldn’t miss out on. Soy beans are an excellent source of complete protein and provide various nutrients, too. They have soluble fiber which can lower blood pressure, cholesterol and improve your gut health. Soy also contains a good source of healthy fats and is high in antioxidant chemicals called isoflavones.

There’s so much that comes from the humble soybean. Isoflavones are a family of compounds that have several different healing properties. The two main isoflavones are genistein and daidzein. Other isoflavones are metabolized from soy inside the human gastrointestinal tract; they turn into a compound used to reduce inflammation. Soy is commonly used to treat the hormonal symptoms of menopause.

Some isoflavones can actually act like weak estrogens by binding to estrogen receptors in many different tissues of the body. These estrogens have even been considered effective in women who are perimenopausal—perimenopause has all the same symptoms of menopause, but just happens in much younger women, sometimes striking a woman as early as 35 years old.

Asian Cultures Benefit from Food Staple

Women in Asian cultures who consume large amounts of soy traditionally have been less likely to experience menopausal symptoms or share the same risks of osteoporosis and heart disease commonly associated with women who live in other parts of the globe.

A recent research report in the European Menopause Journal looked at the results of 17 different trials which all showed that some isoflavones can reduce the symptoms of hot flashes in women. Other studies have suggested the use of multiple isoflavones could significantly reduce a few of the more common symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, insomnia and mood swings.

This is all great news for women who frequently experience these annoying symptoms which can impact quality of life.

How to Get More Soy In Your Diet

Soy can be consumed in foods like soy milk or products like tofu, tempeh or miso. The other alternative is to take a supplement with an extract of soy isoflavones. These products are found on many store shelves and some of them also contain other good-for-you ingredients, including red clover, amino acids and herbal extracts. Although these may be considered safe, their effectiveness is varied.

In my opinion, the best way to get the beneficial isoflavones from soy is to consume soy itself. This is the traditional way the powerful isoflavones are ingested in Asia where they have had the most benefit on the population, so it only makes sense. Soy beans are not only delicious and inexpensive, but they are an excellent source of bio-available isoflavones. They give you a great source of protein, fiber and nutrients, too. I buy them frozen and then heat them with a small amount of avocado oil and garlic powder; you might find them a little bland on their own, so punching them up with some spice is a great way to get your tasty soy protein.

A cup of soybeans every day will supply you with enough isoflavones to improve your health and reduce the risk of experiencing hot flashes, as well as reap the other nutritional benefits. Not a bean fan? The same amounts of isoflavones can also be found in a cup of soy milk, edamame and tofu. More opportunities for healthy soy.


Sources:
Medscape website, June 16, 2014; http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/826270?nlid=58904_1842&src=wnl_edit_medp_wir&uac=5573DJ&spon=17.
Thomas, A., et al., “Effects of isoflavones and amino acid therapies for hot flashes and co-occurring symptoms during the menopausal transition and early postmenopause: A systematic review,” Maturitas May 28, 2014: doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2014.05.007.