In this post, you’ll learn about the health benefits of soy and soyfoods.
Soy contains several essential amino acids.
Whether it’s soy itself or other soy-based product, eating soy fortifies the body with powerful nutrients.
Studies show that among all plant foods, soy is the only one with all the essential amino acids the body needs.
This means that it’s is the most complete protein.
Here are other nutritional components of soy that make it a nutritional powerhouse:
- It doesn’t contain cholesterol
- Have a lot of fiber
- Is loaded with vitamins and minerals
A recommended intake of soy protein is at least 25 grams. That’s about one or two servings of soy food per day.
Research shows that a daily intake of at least 25 grams of soy protein and 30-50 milligrams of isoflavones can improve and safeguard your health.
In the rest of this article, we’ll go over some of the benefits in detail.
Let’s dive in.
1. Improves bone health
One of the benefits of soy foods is that it helps contribute to bone health.
High-quality proteins in soy enable better absorption and retention of calcium in the bones.
Soy isoflavones help to reduce bone loss and prevent bones from breaking down. This, in turn, helps to fight off osteoporosis.
In one study, researchers examined how soy food impacts bone fracture, post-menopause.
The researchers found that soy intake was associated with a one-third reduction in fracture risk.
Another study observed soy intake with an older group. The group had included 40 percent vegetarians.
The findings showed that the women who drink soy milk had a significantly lower risk of getting osteoporosis.
This impact may be because of calcium in soy rather than isoflavone content.
One of the largest, long term clinical trials found that isoflavones in soy significantly improved bone mass density.
2. Reduces cardiovascular risks
Soy foods can also help decrease the risks of cardiovascular diseases.
Part of the reason is that protein in soy, together with isoflavones, reduces bad cholesterol (LDL).
This means there’s less clotting of the blood. And that helps to prevent heart diseases like strokes and heart attacks.
It also decreases blood clotting (thrombosis), which reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.
One study suggests that the reduction of stroke is because of soy repaired neuronal damages that often cause a stroke.
Another reason for soy’s cholesterol-lowering effects may be because of diet changes.
Many high protein foods also have high saturated fat.
When you begin substitute these foods with soy, the overall acid profile of your diet changes, reducing the LDL cholesterol.
The US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III data reported something interesting.
It showed that replacing other proteins with about 24 g protein from soyfoods impacts cholesterol.
That substitution can reduce LDL-cholesterol effects by about 4 percent.
3. Improve blood pressure
Research suggests soy protein can be especially hypotensive.
Soy protein effects not only lowers blood pressure by just 2–5 mmHg, it can also reduce stroke risks 6 –14 percent.
While the effects on lowering blood pressure may be modest, there’s something else.
Simple health wins compound over time. And they can add up to improve overall cardiovascular health.
4. May help reduce breast cancer risk
One of the health benefits of soy and soy foods is its anti-cancer properties.
In non-western countries where soy foods are consumed regularly, the incidence of breast cancer is much lower.
But that’s not a big coincidence. Several other studies are beginning to find the protective effects of soy against cancer.
Take the Shanghai Women’s Health Study published in the International Journal of Cancer for example.
Researchers examined the association between soy food intake and breast cancer risk.
They enrolled over 70,000 women between 40 and 70 years in their study.
They found a high intake of soy during both adolescence and adulthood significantly reduced breast cancer risk.
But, consuming higher amounts of soy only during adolescence (and low soy intake during adulthood) was almost as protective.
Data from other studies suggest that consuming soy as a child or adolescent is critical if you want to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
5. Ease menopausal symptoms
Symptoms of menopause vary a lot. One of the top symptoms is hot flashes.
At least that’s one reason why women tend to consider treatment.
The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation provides some stunning insights.
The study is a multiracial and multiethnic observational study. Researchers enrolled 3302 women transitioning into menopause.
The study found that the average duration of hot flashes was 11.8 years.
For long, researchers have looked into how soyfoods can prevent the onset of or reduce hot flashes.
One systematic review found something revealing.
It turns out that soybean isoflavones significantly reduced the frequency of hot flashes by 20.6 percent.
It also eased the severity of hot flashes 26.2 percent.
A key reason is that isoflavones in soy impacts estrogen levels.
Keep in mind with the onset of menopause, estrogen fluctuates, or declines. isoflavones help ease those symptoms.
6. May help improve mood
Early research in soy foods suggests that isoflavones may function as antidepressants.
Researchers in Italy looked into that mood effect in postmenopausal women over two years.
They found that postmenopausal women who took a very moderate dose (25 mg/day) of isoflavones were less depressed.
The depressive symptoms align with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.
Also, isoflavones in aglycone form reduced anxiety per the Athens Insomnia Scale.
Another study provided more evidence. Consuming 100 mg of isoflavones per day reduced depression.
Over 3 months, it lowered depressive symptoms in clinically depressed postmenopausal women.
7. May improve skin health
There are also early data that show that soy isoflavones can contribute to skin health.
A 14-week trial by researchers in the UK examined wrinkle reduction, postmenopause.
The study enrolled 159 postmenopausal women.
The researchers found that a beverage containing isoflavones reduced wrinkles by 10 percent.
More research will be needed with different data sizes and groups to confirm wrinkle reduction.
But overall, there are a growing consensus one of the health benefits of soy foods is that it can contribute in some way to skin health.