Soy: the gift of the gods

Soy: the gift of the gods

Soy is a legume rich in essential fatty acids, which is low in saturated fats, and is a source of high quality protein. In addition, includes vitamins of the B group, vitamin E, minerals (iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc) and isoflavones (which act as antioxidants, among many other beneficial health properties).
This plant of the legume family has been used traditionally to produce oil or foods such as milk, tofu , or soybean sprouts, and consumption has also been popularized in Western countries in the last 20 years, where experts have come to define the soy as one of the most complete foods that exist.
Soya contains, at equal weight, twice the protein than meat
Soy is a legume with larger number of proteins which, in addition, are of high quality, contrary to what happens with the proteins derived from other plant foods, which have a low content in amino acid while soybean, by contrast, contains one sufficient amount of these amino acids (except for methionine, which can be including other foods in the diet(, such as cereals). And it is that soy contributes almost 37 grams of protein per 100 grams which implies that equal weight, it contains twice the protein than meat.
It is a food rich in fats, most polyunsaturated, as the fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6, necessary for the proper functioning of the metabolism, blood circulation, immune system, brain... It also contains lecithin, which you will surely meet as an emulsifier (E-322), since it appears on the labels of many products that you can buy at the supermarket, such as margarines, industrial pastry, chocolate, etc.
Another of its properties is related to their fiber content, 15.7 grams of fiber for every 100 grams of soy, make it a great ally to combat or relieve constipation, improve the intestinal transit.
As for carbohydrates, are also present in the composition of soybean (15.8 grams per each 100) and, where appropriate, is carbohydrates with low glycemic index.
In the countries of the far East, soy has formed part of the diet of the population for millennia, since she was considered a food with a high nutritional value and properties to prevent diseases. In China, where he was discovered, he was part of the five sacred seeds created by the gods (along with the rice, wheat, barley and millet).

Soy health benefits

These are the most striking benefits that soy can bring to your health:
  • It is an important source of protein of high quality (equivalent to the animal) and, therefore, a food with a high nutritional value, which can fill the gap of the diet of vegetarians, or those which, for various reasons, consume little meat, or their protein needs are not covered.
  • Soy protein slightly reduces the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, and lowers blood pressure in patients with hypertension. Due to these properties, experts attribute to soy the ability to reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease.
  • In epidemiological studies has been observed a reduction in the incidence of certain types of cancer in the population regularly consuming this oil, in particular, there is a lower incidence of cancer breast (as well as the mortality rate associated with this pathology) and prostate cancer. It considered also that soy has a preventive role against colon cancer, due to its richness in fiber and their low saturated fat intake.
  • Investigations in this respect also have seen an improvement of SBI health, showing a decrease of bone loss in the spine in postmenopausal women. In addition, the incorporation of soy to the diet of these women contributed to reduce the symptoms of menopause, especially hot flashes, thanks to isoflavones, Phytoestrogens derived from soy having an oestrogenic favorable over the bones, central nervous system and vascular wall free of side effects (such as cardiovascular or carcinogenic risks), which have been noted after the use of synthetic estrogen (hormone replacement therapy) for the treatment of the symptoms menopause.
  • Different studies have revealed that there is an association between high consumption of plant foods and an low incidence of chronic diseases. Present in the soy isoflavones, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer.
  • In the United States, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), agency responsible for ensuring the health of consumers, which regulates the marketing of foods, drugs, cosmetics, dietary supplements, medical devices, etc., has admitted that the consumption of 25 grams of soy protein per day provides cardiovascular benefits.

The soybeans in your kitchen

Soy-based products are increasingly numerous. The first thing you should know is that soy selected for human consumption must be preserved under certain conditions that do not alter its quality, since an excessive temperature, for example, reduces the amount of protein. The quality of protein is also affected with the aging of the grain, so it should be discard aged seeds and always choose the variety of soybeans suitable for each product.
You can currently find in the supermarket many products made with soy and its derivatives: oil, flour, drinks soya, lecithin, tofu, bean sprouts, so there is no excuse for not putting some soy in your kitchen:
  • Soybean oil: is extracted from selected seeds and is a food rich in polyunsaturated acids, as well as a source of vitamins A, D, E and K.
  • Soy milk: unlike animal milk, contains no lactose or milk or fat protein saturated, so it is recommended for people with lactose intolerance or allergy to cow's milk protein. Most of which are marketed are often flavoured with vanilla, chocolate, almond, as well as enriched with calcium and vitamins.
  • Soy yogurts: you can purchase many different flavors prepared with soy yogurt. They have no cholesterol, bring vegetable protein, and in the absence of lactose, people can take them also with intolerance to this substance.
  • Other drinks with soy: in the market are also available with soy fruit juices, and drink natural soybeans, which consists only of soy and water and its low amount of sugar, may be suitable for diabetics. Frequently, the soy drink is enriched with calcium, vitamins and minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.
  • Soy flour: used in masses of pastry and bakery. It can also be used to prepare sauces and batter. It is very rich in proteins.
  • Lecithin: their numerous properties include its ability to regulate the levels of cholesterol in blood and its role in the metabolism of fats, so it is an ideal dietary supplement for those who suffer from high cholesterol, and also helps to prevent the accumulation of fat in the liver (hepatic steatosis).
  • Tamari: is obtained from the fermentation of soy beans. It is a sauce made with soybeans, water and salt. It enhances the flavor of food, and accompanies very well to vegetables, salads, meat, fish... The soy sauce is similar to the tamari, but also contains wheat, so it is not suitable for coeliacs.
  • Bean sprouts: are germinated soybean seeds they may be consumed raw, in salads, tortillas, empanadas, and provide a large amount of vitamin C.
  • Tofu: it looks like cheese, but it is poor in fat and easy to digest. It is tasteless, so you may want to mix with other foods; You can add to salads, vegetables and noodles, cooking batter and fried, add to sauces once beaten...

The soy isoflavones

Isoflavones are the component that gives soy power Phytoestrogens. They belong to the Group of polyphenols (substances that are also present in red wine), and shown its antioxidant and cardioprotective ability. The isoflavones in soy (the most beneficial are daidzein and genistein), acting similarly to female estrogen, but without the harmful action of high levels of estrogen, for example, for the development of breast cancer.
Various studies have proved that the incidence of breast cancer is much lower in Japanese women, which has been associated with significant consumption of soy in the diet of the population. In addition, the Japanese have better cardiovascular health, lower rate of osteoporosis, and less than Western women menopause-related disorders.
In the Western diet isoflavone consumption hardly reaches 5 mg, while the Oriental Daily ingest approximately 40 mg. And is that, although isoflavones are also found in other vegetables and legumes (chickpeas, green tea, peanuts, beans, beans...), only in soy are present in sufficient quantity to enjoy its excellent properties. In recent years, and thanks to numerous studies that have revealed their great health benefits, soy consumption has become popular among the Western population, soybeans added to many food products, and is also marketed in the form of supplements.

Properties of isoflavones

  • They exert mild estrogenic action, supplementing the functions of estrogen when necessary, especially during perimenopause and menopause, contributing to prevent or reduce the disorders of this stage of the life of the woman.
  • Thanks also to its estrogenic effect preventing bone decalcification and prevent the loss of calcium absorption that occurs when estrogen levels descend.
  • It encourages blood perfusion and improve endothelial function, decreasing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis.
  • They reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL) and have antioxidant capacity, so prevent hypercholesterolemia
  • They protect against certain types of cancer (such as the breast, endometrium and prostate). Isoflavones hamper the activation of the estrogen receptor, thereby reducing the chances of developing cancer and, in addition, to prevent the growth of tumors by preventing the formation of blood vessels that feed tumors.
Article contributed for educational purposes
Health and Wellness

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