Soybean is a legume that is native to eastern Asia. Soy products remained a part of the Asian diet for thousands of years. Now, people grow them in South and North America. You can eat soybeans whole or after processing it.
The various kinds of soy products we have include soy milk, soy protein, soybean oil, tofu, soy flour, and soy sauce. Soybean products have many good health-giving properties. But, we have some shortcomings as well.
Soy products nutrition content
The nutrition content in 100 grams of cooked soybeans is as follows:
- Protein: 16.6 grams
- Carbohydrates: 9.9 grams
- Water: 63%
- Fat: 9 grams
- Saturated: 1.2 grams
- Monounsaturated: 1.87 grams
- Polyunsaturated: 5.16 grams
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 0.58 grams
- Omega-6 fatty acids: 4.51 grams
- Sugars: 3 grams
- Calories: 172
- Fibre: 6 grams
- Molybdenum: 287% of daily need
- Phosphorus: 60%
- Omega-3 fats: 44%
- Magnesium: 39%
- Copper: 78%
- Protein: 58%
- Manganese: 73%
- Iron: 48%
- Vitamin B2: 36%
- Potassium: 23%
The soy protein is the best source of plant protein. Yet, this type of protein is not as good as animal protein. So, though it is nutritious, it is not high quality. Soybean comes under the oilseed class. This is due to the high-fat content. About 50% of the fat is linoleic acid.
Soybean oil is a reliable source of unsaturated fats; a good percentage of saturated fat is present too. The soybean contains both soluble and insoluble fibres. Soluble fibres undergo fermentation in the gut by bacteria and form short-chain fatty acids. This helps prevent colon cancer.
Being low in carbohydrates, the soybean has a low glycaemic index. So, people with diabetes prefer it.
Soy products benefits
Prevent menopausal syndrome
Women going through the menopause and peri-menopause experience hot flashes. This is distracting and can remain annoying as it prevents one from concentrating on their work. The hot flashes in the women with menopause underwent a study in US women and Asian women.
They could not find the link between the presence of soy isoflavone genistein and the hot flashes. But, research is going on. Intake of isoflavones for one week (about 70 grams of soybean) helped reduce the symptoms. But, the improvement occurred only in those women who had one type of bacteria in their guts. This bacterium converted the isoflavones into equol.
Prevents the occurrence of prostate cancer
Soy milk has rich content of phytoestrogen. This is a unique plant hormone that can reduce the production of testosterone in men. This reduction in production results in lower risk in the incidence of prostate cancer. Prostate hypotrophy is lesser in men who have a high-soy diet. The incidence of prostate cancer too is lesser.
Improves the lipid profile
Soy milk can improve your lipid profile. In normal milk, the fat content is high, and you also find cholesterol. But, soy milk has no fat or cholesterol. The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids do not allow the passage of cholesterol into the blood stream. If we have soy milk regularly, we can lower the concentrations of low-density lipoproteins and triglycerides. It raises the concentration of the High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL). This improves the conditions for good heart health.
Promote weight loss
The sugar content in soy milk is lower than that in cow’s milk. In fact, the amount is about half. The soy milk has 7 grams of sugar while the cow’s milk has 12 grams. This higher amount of sugar is the reason for the extra calories too. You have about 80 calories in cow’s milk. Besides the lower calories, there is another reason for the weight loss when one has soy milk instead of cow’s milk. The monounsaturated fatty acid in soy milk inhibits the absorption of fat in the intestine. One also feels full for a longer time after drinking soy milk. This is because of the high fibre content.
Strengthen the integrity of the blood vessels
Soy products had powerful Phyto-antioxidants and unsaturated fatty acids that help keep the blood vessels in shape and healthy. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids protect the blood vessels from lesions. The risk of hemorrhage is lesser. That is because these fatty acids line up along the walls of the blood vessels and defend the lining cells. It prevents cholesterol deposit and defends against attacks by free radicals. The fluidity of the blood vessels remains enhanced through the binding to these nutrients. Since we have increased flexibility, the blood vessels can withstand blood pressure variations well.
Reduces the incidence of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs with age. It is hormone-related, and so the soybean can help. Soy has phytoestrogen that can augment the calcium absorption in the body. This will help prevent the loss of bone mass. One gets the better benefit if one has soy milk fortified by calcium and Vitamin D.
Soybean contains Vitamin E that is good for fighting the effects of aging. It reduces the wrinkles and tones the skin. If you have dark spots or fine lines, having soybean regularly will help you get rid of them. It moisturizes the skin and makes it supple. The soybean helps to remove excess oiliness of the skin. So, your skin is neither flaky nor is it oily. The Vitamin E helps to renew the old dead cells with new ones.
If you need to condition your facial skin, just make a paste of the soybeans and apply them on your face. Leave it on to dry. Wash with warm water; avoid soap. Do this thrice a week and see the results. Be careful not to overdo it. Having too much of soybean can cause nausea and irritation in the bowels.
The soybean will add luster to your hair and nails. Soy products makes the hair soft, voluminous, and shiny. It will make the nails strong and add shine. It helps get rid of ailments of the nail such as fungal infection.
High consumption of soy products could have adverse effects. For one, the thyroid function might remain suppressed. This could lead to hypothyroidism. The insoluble fibres, stachyose and raffinose, could worsen the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It could cause flatulence and diarrhea in sensitive individuals. Further, the glycinin and conglycinin found in soy proteins might cause allergy in sensitive individuals.