Soybeans or soya beans are legumes which grow throughout much of the world and constitute one of the world’s major food crops. The beans can be processed into soy protein, which is a powder; soymilk, which is a beverage that may or may not be fortified with extra calcium from the soybeans; or soy fiber, which contains some of the fibrous parts of the bean. Soy are turned into a wide array of foods, including tofu, miso, soymilk and tempeh. Soybeans have been in use as a food crop in Asia for around 5000 years, but didn’t make their way to the United States until the 19th century. In the modern world, the vast majority of soybeans are either turned into oil or used as feed for livestock or human consumption
Nutrition profile of soy :
Soy is a high-quality protein. It is one of only two known plant foods (the other is amaranth seed) to contain all the essential amino acids, similar to those found in meat.
Some soy products are sources of calcium and iron, such as Chinese tofu or tempeh (made with a calcium coagulant) and calcium-fortified soy drinks. The soybean is:
high in fibre
high in protein
low in saturated fat
a good source of omega-3 fatty acids
a source of antioxidants
high in phytoestrogens.
Health benefits of soy :
A. Cardiovascular Benefits :
Oestrogen may protect women against coronary heart disease (CHD) during their reproductive years, but rates of CHD increase remarkably after menopause. Soybeans have been shown to lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, both known risk factors for CHD.
B. Cancer Prevention Benefits :
soy isoflavone can increase activity of a tumor suppressor protein called p53. When p53 becomes more active, it can help trigger programmed cell death (apoptosis) in cancer cells, and it also help trigger cell cycle arrest (helping stop ongoing cancer cell activity). Genistein has also been shown to block the activity of protein kinases in a way that can help slow tumor formation, especially in the case of breast and prostate cancer.
C. Soy and Hot Flashes :
Due to their phytoestrogen content, it has been thought that soy can reduce menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes. soy-rich diet helps reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, because the phytoestrogens act like a mild form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Measured reductions in the rate of hot flushes associated with soy consumption vary from 1.9 per cent to 45 per cent.
D. Bone Health Benefits :
A lower rate of osteoporosis in some countries has been associated with increased intake of whole soy foods, especially fermented whole soybean foods. At the same time, however, soy intake (especially processed soy intake, including soy protein concentrates, isolated soy protein, and supplements containing purified soy isoflavones) has often failed to show any improvement in bone mineral density or bone metabolism.
E. Soybeans and Obesity :
Increased protein intake has always been associated with suppression of appetite, and plant foods like soy that provide concentrated amounts of protein have a research-based ability to help suppress appetite. (Of course, our experience of appetite is very complicated, and there is no simple way to change our appetite exclusively through diet.) Some studies on unique peptides (protein-like components) in soy have shown the ability of this peptides to decrease synthesis of SREBPs (sterol regulatory element binding proteins), thereby helping decrease synthesis of certain fatty acids as well as depositing of these fatty acids in fat cells.
F. Soybeans and Type 2 Diabetes :
Soy foods have been shown to lessen insulin resistance by increasing the synthesis of insulin receptors. However, this increased formation of insulin receptors only appears to occur in the presence of other dietary circumstances, like a moderate amount of polyunsaturated fat intake. High levels of total soy intake (approximately 200 grams per day) have also been associated with decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, but only in Asian populations thus far.
G. Vitamin K :
Soybeans of all kinds qualify as a good source of vitamin K based on our food-nutrient ranking system. However, your vitamin K benefits from soybeans may be increased in the case of certain fermented soy foods.