Soy is one of the richest sources of protein. It is extremely beneficial for vegetarians and vegans who might suffer from protein deficiency due to lack of animal protein in their diet.
You will find the shelves of your local store stuffed with a wide variety of soy products. Given the large number of benefits of soy protein, the proportion of soy products is steadily increasing in our meals. However, studies have shown that over consumption of soy products can cause several health problems. To extract the health benefits of soy, you must consume soy products in moderation, following the guideline set by nutrition and health experts.
Benefits of soy
Soybean contains all the essential amino acids that the human body could not manufacture. It is also a good source of B vitamins, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, calcium, zinc, phosphorous and magnesium. According to health experts, the high soluble fiber content of soybean makes it a natural cholesterol lowering food. It has been observed that regular intake of 20 to 25 grams of soy could cause a 12 percent drop in the total cholesterol level.
The soluble fibers in soy bind with the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol and triglycerides, and remove the excess cholesterol out of the body. Soy products, such as soymilk or soy cheese, could replace saturated fatty foods. Calcium and isoflavones, such as daidzein, could prevent loss of bone density. Loss of bone density, which is usually associated with aging, leads to osteoporosis. Intake of soy products could reduce the risk of bone fracture particularly among women after menopause. Soy contains estrogen-like plant hormone. Health experts often recommend intake of soy foods to cure symptoms of menopause.
How much soy is safe?
Despite the advantages of soy protein, diet packed with excessive soy content could be harmful for the body. Researchers have found that in countries such as Japan and China, where soy is part of the traditional diet, not more than 36 grams of soy is consumed per day. Studies have shown that only 25 grams of soy is enough to reduce your cholesterol level. Excess soy intake could outweigh its advantages. Although, the phytoestrogen content of soy makes it a favorable food for treating menopause symptoms, but it can also cause hormonal imbalance, increasing the risk of breast cancer. Soy products can also reduce sperm count and increase infertility risk in men.