When you envision a plant-based diet, one of the first food sources that come to mind is undoubtedly the humble soybean. Soybean has long been included in many diets and today more than 31% of Americans consume it on a regular basis. Over the years there have been numerous contradicting findings pertaining to the nutritional value and health benefits of soy. Thankfully due to new research published by the American Cancer Society, Americans now have a greater understanding of soy than ever before and the food can be readily incorporated into a healthy plant-based lifestyle with maximum benefit.
Improved metabolic activity
As proteins are the building blocks of cells, it is imperative to consume enough protein to ensure new cell generation as well as the repair of damaged cells. When you follow a plant-based diet it becomes particularly difficult at times to consume sufficient amounts of protein. Soybeans are a very good source of healthy protein and a suitable replacement for eggs, red meat, chicken and dairy products. The protein found in soybeans can boost your metabolic functioning substantially while giving your entire system an overall boost.
Improved cardiac health
Soybeans are a potent source of healthier, unsaturated fat which can help you lower your cholesterol levels remarkably. By regulating your cholesterol you will be more resilient to conditions like atherosclerosis which can progress to a stroke or heart attack. Soybeans also boast significant amounts of linoleic acid and linolenic acid – two fatty acids that promotes healthy muscle function in the body (including the heart) as well as helps regulate blood pressure levels. Heart health is further improved by the fiber found in soybeans that can reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the body, also getting rid of the fatty layers that build up in the arteries.
It may reduce the impact of menopause
Menopause is undoubtedly something most women dread as it often goes hand in hand with very unpleasant symptoms such as hot flushes, hunger pangs, headaches and mood swings. During menopause, the estrogen levels in the body decreases substantially. Soybeans are a superb source of isoflavones which bind to the estrogen receptor cells, decreasing the symptoms generally associated with menopause. By incorporating soybeans into your diet you can make the transition into another chapter of your life significantly easier.
Helps prevent cancer
The incidence of cancer is noticeably lower in South Asian countries including Korea, Japan and China than in the West, making it evident that diet may be a key player when it comes to preventing and treating the disease. Women with breast cancer who regularly consumed soy had an increased survival rate than those who didn’t eat soy according to research conducted by the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Soybeans are rich in a protein that may inhibit the progression of colon, lung and liver cancer. They are also filled with a range of antioxidants that are adepts at neutralizing the cancer-causing free radicals in the body.
Boosts your immune system
Did you know that the average American adult falls ill anywhere between 1 and 4 times a year? In order to ward off illness and disease your body is in constant need of numerous vitamins and minerals, including protein. Despite not often getting the credit it deserves, protein is of vital importance in the regulation of your body’s immune system. By regularly consuming healthy amounts of soybean you can up your protein levels, giving your immune system a healthy boost and helping your body fight off any viruses that it is faced with.
It can improve the integrity of your blood vessels
Apart from being a great source of protein, soybeans are also filled with potent phyto-antioxidants such as omega-3 and omega-6. These antioxidants are able to offer the various blood vessels in the body protection from hemorrhages and lesions. The nutrients found in soybeans also contribute towards strengthening the blood vessel linings, defending the cells from free radical attacks and accumulating cholesterol. By improving the integrity of the blood vessels, the body’s blood pressure is also regulated, decreasing the risk of complications arising from hypertension. The iron and copper found in soybeans are also essential for the healthy formation of red blood cells which, in turn, supplies the body with oxygen and nutrients.
It can boost your energy levels
Suffering from depleted energy levels can prove to be very debilitating, especially if you have a very busy schedule. The protein contained in soybean has been found to stimulate the cerebral cortex in the brain which is very apt at improving mental clarity and improving a blue mood. The same protein is very rich in branched-chain amino acids which the body can utilize as fuel for energy production. Once the protein is being burnt as a source of energy it can improve general energy levels, sport performance and stamina.
Soybeans may improve your sleep and reduce your depression
Due to our increasingly-stressful lifestyles, quality sleep has become a rare commodity. We place so much emphasis on excelling at our jobs and taking care of our families that we often don’t allow ourselves enough time to get a good night’s rest. Soybeans may help reduce insomnia as well as improve the overall quality of your sleep. This is due to its high magnesium content that which has been linked to boosting tranquility as well as duration of sleep. The folates found in soybeans can also help treat depression as it is known to boost the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter known to improve your mood and overall well-being.
As with any other food source, moderation is key when it comes to soy consumption, with between 25g and 35g a day being a good guideline to follow. When looking for soy-derived products to incorporate into your diet make sure to opt for best-quality, most natural options you can find as they will provide you with the most health benefits while also keeping you feeling fuller for longer.