What is Soy?
The word ‘Soy’ is derived from Soybean or Soya bean which is a legume. It is the chief source of many food items which were once supposed to be simple ingredients used in different food recipes, but as the centuries passed by, the importance of this vegetable source became far more than just a simple ingredient. In today’s modern world of sophistication, Soy has immerged to be a main dietary component for many young and old.
The Different Components of Soy
Though a plant species, Soy is one of the richest sources of protein for human body. It also contains many vitamins and minerals including Zinc, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron and Folate. It also provides fiber which has many documented benefits for human body, most notably keeping the colon healthy.
Soy is recognized as one of the chief constituents of many products. The most common product which has been widely used in kitchens for many years now is the Soy sauce which is used in both continental and Chinese cuisine. Some of the other products which are derived from Soy are:
- Soy milk
- Soy yogurt
- Soy cheese
- Soy beverages
- Soy nuts and snacks
- Soy flour
- Soybean oil
- Soy lecithin
- Japanese foods (Miso, Natto)
- Soy vodka
- Soy soaps
- Soy cosmetics
Benefits of Soy to Human Health
For many decades past the benefits of Soy were unknown both to health professionals and the general public. Now, however, soy is becoming very popular and highly recommended by both researchers and medical health professional due to its immense beneficial and documented prospects for the human body’s well being. Most of the essential dietary components of human diet are present in Soy and its products.
Disease Prevention with Soy
Soy is not just a powerhouse of proteins and other essential components for human body, but also protects the body from many fatal diseases and in addition, maintains good general health. Doctors these days recognize the importance of adding and substituting Soy and its products in their patients’ diets because Soy lowers many agents which are harmful to the body.
Here are some of the medical conditions and diseases which are either prevented by Soy or treated by adding Soy and its products into daily diet of an afflicted individual:
Recent research has proved that Soy and its products can help people achieve their weight reduction goals. As we grow older, we are more acquainted with sedentary lifestyles and there is a definitive reduction in exercise and other physical activities. Soy and its products come in to play at this stage and help reduce weight in many ways.
Soy is a low-fat source of high quality protein and substitution of regular meat with Soy meals provides added benefits. It also reduces hunger cravings, increases energy levels, and promotes slow digestion and absorption. All of these steps couple together to help lowering weight. Thus Soy and its products help reduce weight and also prevent one from other health hazards which result due to obesity.
Heart Disease Prevention:
Soy contains plant estrogens called Isoflavones. These Isoflavones are documented to reduce Cholesterol and LDL (low density lipo-protein) in the blood. These two fatty components are the culprits of causing deposition of fatty plaques in the walls of coronary blood vessels and hence cause heart attacks. Some studies have concluded that 25gms of Soy protein per day can significantly result in low Cholesterol and LDL levels in blood.
Soy and its products are also known to help prevent Hypertension. Therefore physicians are constantly indicating Soy meals to their patients as an alternative to meat proteins containing harmful fats.
Soy and its products have also shown promising results in terms of bone health especially in middle aged females. Isoflavones present in Soy products have a positive role in improving bone health by increasing mineral density by lowering calcium loss from the body. Thus Soy products strengthen bones and prevent bone disorders like Osteoporosis, especially in women during their peri- and post-menopausal periods.
Prevention and treatment of Menopausal symptoms:
One of the newest areas of research in health is the role of Soy in preventing peri- and post-menopausal symptoms in women. Soy has been documented to lower the frequency of hot flushes and night sweats in women of this age group. Soy products like Soy beverages, Soy nuts and Soy milk are always great alternatives to Estrogen pills for menopausal problems.
Isoflavones in Soy (particularly Genistein and Daidzein) act as weak estrogens in the body and have protective role against breast, uterine and prostate cancer. Colon cancer is another health issue which can be prevented by use of Soy products because Soy also acts as dietary fiber. The incidence of these cancers is quite low in those parts of the world where Soy products are widely used.