The truth about Soy
Are you confused about soy? There is a lot of medical information all around us and it can be conflicting. Some sources say it's good for you, some say otherwise.
Making healthy decisions can be challenging when there is conflicting information on the web.
While soy is known to have estrogen-like effects, human studies don't support that the estrogenic effects of soy increase the risk of cancer, but in fact, may decrease it.
The question comes down to quality. In the United States, 85% of soybeans are genetically modified. If you're able to source good soy products, it's best to find Organic, Non-GMO soybeans.
Not only are non-GMO soybeans richer in nutrients and free of glyphosate and agrochemicals, but they are also better for our environment.
Soy nuts are dried and roasted soybeans that can resemble roasted peanuts. Soybeans are a type of legume that have a vast nutritional profile.
Soybeans are naturally high in protein, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin C, and low in saturated fat.
Soybeans are also a good source of fiber, magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium and make for a great snack. Other great sources of soy include edamame, tofu, miso, and tempeh.
What are the benefits of soy nuts?
- Can lower cholesterol and help lower the risk of heart disease
Soy nuts are rich in fiber, protein, and alpha-lipoic acid, which can contribute to its cholesterol-reducing effect.
Fiber helps bind to cholesterol in the bloodstream and reduce its absorption by helping it be excreted in the bile. Alpha-lipoic acid, also known as ALA, has been shown to decrease total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol which is considered to be the bad cholesterol.
By reducing your cholesterol, you're able to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Soy nuts are also a great source of protein and because they're low in saturated fat, they make a good substitute for animal proteins that can generally have higher fat content.
2. May reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer
Soy isoflavones can bind to estrogen receptors in the body and cause either weak estrogenic or anti-estrogenic activity. There have been many studies linking a reduced risk of breast cancer with an increased intake of soy.
It should be noted, however, that many of these studies were done in Asian countries, where soy products may be less processed than they are in the United States.
This is where quality matters. Soybean contains lunasin, a bioactive peptide, which has been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer in males.
3. Manage obesity/weight management
Soy nuts naturally contain both fiber and protein which can help stabilize your blood sugar and keep you feeling fuller longer. This combination has been shown to aid in weight loss. Clinical research has also shown that 40-160 mg of soy isoflavones per day can aid in weight loss.
4. Reduce symptoms of menopause
Soy isoflavones are estrogen mimickers, meaning they biologically behave the same as estrogen. During menopause, estrogen levels drop significantly, which can lead to menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, and vaginal dryness. Studies have shown that women supplementing with soy isoflavones experienced less significant menopausal symptoms compared to those not consuming soy isoflavones.
5. Reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Dietary intake of soy has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar and lead to a decreased risk of glucose intolerance. The combination of fiber and protein naturally present in soy helps stabilize blood sugar. There are several studies that indicate the positive effect soy intake has on glycemic control and weight management.
6. Anti-Cancer Properties
The isoflavones in soy have been proven to prevent cancer. A major isoflavone found in soy, genistein, has been shown to have antineoplastic effects, more specifically in ovarian cancer. Genistein has also more generally shown to be involved in cell regulation and cell death, which may aid in the prevention of certain cancers.
Soy nuts contain isoflavones which have been shown to increase bone strength, helping decrease the risk of fractures. Soy isoflavones help increase bone mineral density which can be very helpful in menopausal and post-menopausal women struggling with osteopenia or osteoporosis.
So now what?
Soy products, when consumed in their natural, least processed form have been shown to have significant health benefits. However, always consult with your healthcare provider if you are unsure if consuming soy products is right for you.