Over the past years, several arguments have been raised regarding the impacts of soy consumption on health. While some studies attribute numerous benefits to soy, some others give contradicting opinions over this popular leguminous crop. Although everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion yet it is left for us to decipher what we really want for ourselves.
This article titled "discover how soy affects your health" sheds light on both the beneficial aspects and some controversial issues surrounding the use of soy. Emphasis has been laid on the health benefits of soy, uses of soybeans, soy nutrition, safe ways to prepare soybeans before consumption as well as the dangers of soy. Read through the entire article for more information.
Description of Soy
Soybean, which is botanically known as Glycine max is a leguminous plant that is highly valuable all over the world due to its high medicinal and nutritional values. Soybean is also known as soya bean, miracle bean or golden bean. Soybean is originally from Asia before spreading to other parts of the world such as the United States, Brazil and Argentina etc.
The world soy production is expected to reach 311.1 million metric tons in the year 2020 and 371.3 million metric tons in the year 2030. By the year 2030, it is projected that Argentina, the United States, Brazil, China and India will generate more than 90 % of the world soy production. Other legumes that belong to the same family of Leguminoceae include soy include; podded plants, peas, beans, peanuts and lentils.
In Japan and China, the soy plant is known as the yellow bean, large bean, pinyin, daizu, edamame or dàdòu. The soybean leaves, pods and stems are usually covered with fine grayish brown hairs. The soy leaves bear flowers that are purple, pink and white in color. The leaves usually fall off before the seeds get matured and the leaves are trifoliolate in appearance. The soy pod grows in clusters of 3 to 5 with each pod being as long as three to eight cm long.
Soybeans have various colors ranging from green, black, brown, yellow or blue. The hypocotyl and cotyledon of the matured soybean is usually protected from damage by the hull, which is water-resistant and hard. Among the legumes, the soybean is categorized as an oil-seed due to its high oil and protein content.
Health Benefits of Soybeans
1.Effects of Soy on cancer
Researchers reveal that soy food such as soybean protein and soy milk contains genistein, which is a phytoestrogen that belongs to the category of isoflavones. Genistein helps to inhibit the growth of cancer cells mainly by inhibiting the body substances that regulate cell division and survival.
It is found that consuming soy food lowers the risks of cancers such as colon cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and endometrial cancer. Genistein uses both hormonal and non-hormonal action to prevent cancer attacks by inhibiting the tyrosine kinases that regulates the cell growth.
2. Effects of Soy on Type 2 Diabetes
Soybean can be used for preventing type 2 diabetes due to its ability to reduce insulin resistance by boosting the synthesis of insulin receptors. An Asian population study shows that a high soy intake can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes however more studies are being carried out to discover the use of soy in preventing health problems associated with blood sugar levels and insulin metabolism.
3. Regulation of Cholesterol Level
Studies reveal that soybean protein contains isoflavones that can remarkably reduce LDL cholesterol, triacylglycerol and serum total cholesterol. These isoflavones can also increase the HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol depending on the duration of intake. Regulating the cholesterol level helps to reduce the risk of heart diseases and other heart-related problems.
4. Reduction of menopausal symptoms
Studies reveal that women consuming soy food have higher chances of reduced menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.
5. Reduction of Cardiovascular Diseases
Researchers reveal that the intake of soy helps to reduce the risks of developing cardiovascular diseases because of its isoflavones content.
6. Effects of Soybeans on Obesity Soybean is an excellent source of protein, which helps to suppress appetite as well as minimize the synthesis of fatty acids that can cause obesity.
7. Effects of soy on Osteoporosis
Consuming soy food such as soybean, soy milk or soy sauce helps to lower the risk of osteoporosis.
8. Hypotensive Properties of Soy
Consumption of soy food extract helps to reduce blood pressure and lowers the risk of hypertension because of its anti-hypertensive properties.
9. Improvement of Cognitive Functioning
Studies reveal that consuming soy food and soy supplements helps to boost the cognitive functioning of the brain.
Uses of Soybeans
1. Culinary Purposes of Soy
Soybeans are used for making soy milk (soya milk), natto, tofu, soy sauce, soy grits, soy-based infant formula (SBIF) and fermented soybean paste. The soybean seed contains approximately 19% of oil, which suggests why almost 85% of the world's soybean crop is used for making vegetable oil and soybean meal.
Soybean meal is obtained after solvent extraction of oil from soybean flakes. Dried soybeans can be processed and filtered with a mesh for producing soy flour. Soy flour is produced by roasting the soybean, removing the protective coatings of the soy and then grinding the soya beans to form soy flour. However, soy flour can also be produced without first roasting the raw soy before grinding. Soybeans can also be used for producing soy protein isolate and soy concentrates. Up to 15 % of soy lecithin can be added to soy flour to produce lecithinated soy flour. Kinako is a popular type of soy flour used in Japanese dishes. Soy is gluten-free because the gluten protein behind the harsh reactions in gluten sensitivity and celiac diseases only occurs in the rye, grains, wheat and barley.
2.Industrial Purposes of Soy
Soybeans can be used for manufacturing industrial products such as cosmetics, oils, crayons, soap, textiles, inks, resins, plastics, biodiesel and solvents.
3. Use of Soy for Animal Feeds
Soy is an essential ingredient for producing animal feeds. Animals such as cattle, goat, cow usually fed soy feeds, which are significantly rich in omega-6.
Soybean is an excellent source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, phosphorus, protein, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, iron, isoflavones, vitamin B-6, magnesium, potassium, diadzein. It is noteworthy that the soybean protein is the only vegetable protein that comprises of all the essential amino acids that support the growth and maintenance of living organisms.
How to prepare Soybeans before Consumption
Soybeans should be cooked properly under high heat in order to destroy the trypsin inhibitors, which is also known as serine protease inhibitors. Cooking the soybean makes it easier for the soy skins to peel off easily. It is noteworthy that the soy skins should be thoroughly removed from the soy before consumption as it is believed that the skins are harmful to health. Moreover, raw soybeans shouldn’t be consumed as they are toxic to health.
Dangers of Soy
Are you aware of the dangers of soy? Maybe yes but many people are still oblivious of the side effects of soy. Notwithstanding all the amazing benefits attributive to soy, some researchers claim that there are some certain health issues associated with consuming soy. Some of the side effects of soy are detailed below;
1. Risk of Cancer
Researchers reveal that women with past or current breast cancer attacks should avoid taking soy products because of risks of possible tumor growth as a result of the presence of phytoestrogens in soy. Some researchers claim that soybean oil contains high amount of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which can possibly increase the onset of breast cancers in postmenopausal women. However, some other researchers contradicted this claim by revealing that soy isoflavones intake can significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer.
2. Side Effects of Soy on Gout
Some researchers reveal that people suffering from gout should avoid consuming soybeans and soy food products as soy contains purine organic compound that can worsen the condition. On the other hand, some other researchers found no relationship between gout and the consumption of purine-rich food products.
3. Side Effects of Soy on the Hormone Level
Soybean contains a high amount of phytoestrogens that can cause hormonal imbalance, low sperm count, estrogen dominance and infertility.
4. Soy Allergy
Apart from peanuts, milk, eggs, shellfish and tree nuts, soybeans are also categorized among the common food allergies. Soybean allergy is mainly common among children and babies and is usually associated with angioedema, anaphylaxis, urticaria and skin rashes. Soy food can also trigger food intolerance, vomiting, diarrhea, anemia and weight loss.
Having read through this post, it will be highly appreciated if you leave your opinion or ask related questions in the comment section. Every opinion counts!!!
This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
1. Abdul Jabbar, B. K.; Saud, H. M. (2012), Effects of phosphorus on biological nitrogen fixation in soybean under irrigation using saline water. Global Journal of Science Frontier Research Agriculture & Biology, 12(1): 64-70.
2. Cantani, A. and Lucenti, P. (1997), Natural History of Soy Allergy and/or Intolerance in Children, and Clinical Use of Soy-protein Formulas, Pediatric Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (Wiley Online Library) 8 (2): pp. 59–65.
3. Chianu, J. (2006), Soybean (Glycine max) promotion for improved nutrition and soil fertility in smallholder farms, East Africa”, Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Institute of the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).
4. Coward, L., Smith, M., Kirk, M. and Barnes, S. (1998), Chemical modification of isoflavones in soyfoods during cooking and processing,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 68, no. 6, pp. 1486S-1490S.
5. Jcesar (2015), Accessed online [https://pixabay.com/en/soy-flower-purple-flowers-nature-968969/], accessed date 17/10/2015.
6. Jing (2015), Accessed online [https://pixabay.com/en/soybeans-beans-soy-food-grains-182295/] Accessed date 17/10/2015.
7. Kaschuk, G., Hungria, M., Leffelaar, P. A., Giller, K. E. and Kuyper, T. W. (2010), Differences in Photosynthetic Behaviour and Leaf Senescence of Soybean (Glycine max [L.] Merrill) Dependent on N2 Fixation or Nitrate Supply. Plant Biology, 12, pp. 60-65.
8. Kashef, R.K.H., Hassan, H.M.M., Afify, A.S., Ghabour, S.I. and Saleh, N.T. (2008), Effect of soybean galactomannan on the activities of α-amylase, trypsin, lipase and starch digestion. Journal of Applied Science Research, 4(12): pp.1893-1895.
9. Kenny, A. M., Mangano, K. M., Abourizk, R. H., Bruno, R., Anamani, D.E., Kleppinger, A., Walsh, S.J., Prestwood, K.M. and Kerstetter, J. E. (2009), Soy Proteins and Isoflavones Affect Bone Mineral Density in Older Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 90, pp. 234-242.
10. Kobayashi, M. (2005). Immunological functions of soy sauce: Hypoallergenicity and antiallergenic activity of soy sauce. Journal of Bioscience and
Bioengineering, 100: pp.144-146.
11. Holzhauser, T., Wackermann, O., Ballmer-Weber, B.K., Bindslev-Jensen, C., Scibilia, J., Perono-Garoffo, L., Utsumi, S., Poulsen, L.K. and Vieths, S.
(2009), Soybean (Glycine max) allergy in Europe: Gly m 5 (β-conglycinin) and Gly m 6 (glycinin) are potential diagnostic markers for severe allergic
reactions to soy. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 123(2):452-457.
12. Lapan, H. E. and G. C. Moschini. 2004. Innovation and Trade with Endogenous Market Failure: The Case of Genetically Modified Products. American Journal of Agricultural Economics. 86(3): pp. 634-648.
13. Masudaa, T. and Goldsmith, P. D. (2009), World Soybean Production: Area Harvested, Yield and Long-Term Projections, International Food and Agribusiness Management Review Volume 12, Issue 4, pp. 143-147.
14. Miniello, V. L, Moro, G. E, Tarantino, M, Natile, M., Granieri, L. and Armenio, L. (2003), Soy-based Formulas and Phyto-oestrogens: A Safety Profile, Acta Newton, Katherine M., Grady and Deborah (2011), Soy Isoflavones for Prevention of Menopausal Bone Loss and Vasomotor Symptoms: Comment on 'Soy Isoflavones in the Prevention of Menopausal Bone Loss and Menopausal Symptoms'". Archives of Internal Medicine (American Medical Association) 171 (15): pp.1369–1370.
Paediatrica (Wiley-Blackwell) 91 (441),pp. 93–96.
15. Mugendi, E.; Gitonga, N.; Cheruiyot, R.; Maingi, J. (2010), Biological Nitrogen Fixation by Promiscuous Soybean (Glycine max L. Merril) in the Central Highlands of Kenya: Response to Inorganic Fertilizer Soil Amendments, World Journal of Agricultural Sciences 2010, 6(4): pp. 381-385.
16. Njeru, E. M., Maingi, J. M., Cheruiyot, R. and Mburugu, G. N. (2013), Managing Soybean for Enhanced Food Production and Soil Bio-Fertility in Smallholder Systems through Maximized Fertilizer Use Efficiency, International Journal of Agriculture and Forestry, 3(5), pp. 191-194.
17. Onor, I. O., Onor Jr, G. I. and Kambhampati, M. S. (2014), Ecophysiological Effects of Nitrogen on Soybean Glycine max (L.) Merr., Open Journal of Soil Science, 4, pp. 357-360.
18. Shurtleff, W. and Aoyagi, A. (2015), History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in Greece, the European Union and Small Western European Countries (1939-2015), Lafayette, California: Soyinfo Center.
19. Suzuki Y, Kondo K, Matsumoto Y, Zhao BQ, Otsuguro K, Maeda T, Tsukamoto Y, Urano T, Umemura K. 2003), (Dietary supplementation of fermented soybean, natto, suppresses intimal thickening and modulates the lysis of mural thrombi after endothelial injury in rat femoral artery, Life Sciences 73:1289-1298.
20. Yan L, Spitznagel EL. Soy consumption and prostate cancer risk in men: a revisit of a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Apr;89(4):1155-63.