Soy and Your Health
Health Benefits of Soy
Automatic Soymilk MakerT delivers a natural delicious way to enjoy the health benefits of soymilk. Whether you are new to soymilk or have been drinking commercial beverages for years you will find that making fresh natural soymilk is an excellent way for you and your family to truly benefit from the goodness of soy.
A Heart Healthy Diet
In 2000 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that foods containing soy protein may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).
What’s In A Claim
To get the heart-healthy benefits of soy protein, the FDA recommends that consumers incorporate four servings of at least 6.25 grams of soy protein into their daily diet – a total of at least 25 grams of soy protein each day.
The soy health claim is based on the FDA’s determination that 25 grams of soy protein per day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease by reducing blood cholesterol levels. Recent clinical trials have shown that consumption of soy protein compared to other proteins such as those from milk or meat, can lower total and LDL cholesterol levels.
New food product labels may now say, “Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease. Over 40 scientific research studies have been conducted on the effects of soy protein and cardiovascular disease. More than 54 million people in the U.S. have high blood cholesterol (levels over 200), according to the American Heart Association.
Soy foods fit the dietary guidelines for reducing cancer risk, and they also contain anticarcinogens which may prove to be protective. Epidemiological studies show that populations which consume a typical Asian diet have lower incidences of breast, prostate, and colon cancers than those consuming a Western diet. The Asian diet includes mostly plant foods, including legumes, fruits, and vegetables, and is low in fat.
|The Japanese have the highest consumption of soyfoods. On the other hand, the typical Western diet includes large amounts of animal foods, is lower in fiber and complex carbohydrates, and is high in fat. Soy foods are dietary staples in the Orient, but are not commonly included in the Western diet. Japan has a very low incidence of hormone-dependent cancers.|
The mortality rate from breast and prostate cancers in Japan is about one fourth that of the United States. There is evidence that suggests the difference in cancer rates is not due to genetics, but rather to diet. Migration studies have shown that when Asians move to the United States and adopt a Western diet, they ultimately have the same cancer incidence as Americans.
The American Cancer Society has created guidelines designed to help reduce the risk of cancer. Their recommendations include: • Choose most of the foods you eat from plant sources; • Limit your intake of high-fat foods, particularly from animal sources.
Fresh soymilk fits these guidelines for a health promoting diet. Soymilk contains high quality protein and makes an excellent substitute for animal foods. Soymilk and tofu are amazingly versatile, and can easily be incorporated into a varied diet.
Soyfoods are the richest dietary source of isoflavones. These compounds are being studied intensively because they exert physiological effects which may help reduce risk of certain diseases. Phytochemicals are plant compounds which exert biological effects in the animals or humans that consume them. One type of phytochemical is isoflavones.
Isoflavones are found in varying amounts in legumes, but the only significant source in the human diet is soybeans. Isoflavones are phytoestrogens and have a chemical structure similar to that of estrogen. When consumed by animals or humans, isoflavones exert weak estrogenic effects. The two primary isoflavones in soybeans are genistein and daidzein, and their glycosides.
In fact, most isoflavones occur in soybeans as the glycoside forms, genistein and daidzein. Tofu, soymilk, soy flour, and soy nuts have isoflavone concentrations of 1.3 to 3.8 mg/g or about 37 to 108 mg per ounce.
Currently, a great deal of research is being conducted to investigate possible health benefits of soy with woman that are experiencing menopause. During pre-menopause, women experience fluctuations in estrogen levels which can cause uncomfortable symptoms. The hormonal changes that occur during menopause can cause an increased risk for heart disease and osteoporosis in addition to a variety of symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, vaginal dryness, and or headaches.
Changes in estrogen levels have surprisingly wide-ranging effects throughout the body. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is commonly prescribed to help prevent the negative health effects of menopause. However, many women do not want to take HRT because of the possible increased risk for breast cancer. Can soymilk and soyfoods provide the same kinds of health benefits as HRT, without the risks?
Scientists do not have the answer yet, but evidence is accumulating for several health benefits of soy. Soy contains phytoestrogens in the form of the isoflavones, genistein and daidzein. These are known to have weak estrogenic effects when consumed by animals and humans. Researchers are studying the physiological effects of the isoflavones to find out whether they can serve some of the same functions as physiological estrogens, and thereby decrease the health risks associated with menopause.
A cross-cultural study of menopause found that women in Japan rarely reported the symptoms of pre-menopause which are common in the West. Post-menopausal Japanese women also have lower rates of osteoporosis and heart disease, and a longer life expectancy. These facts have fueled an interest in research designed to clarify the relationship between soy consumption and health.
Diabetes & Kidney Disease
There is some research evidence that soyfoods such as fresh soymilk may help with blood sugar control in diabetics. It is interesting that the use of soyfoods for diabetes control was one of the first health benefits noted for soy. Soy may also help lower the risk for some of the complications of diabetes, such as kidney disease. Legumes, especially soybeans, have a very low glycemic index, and are valuable foods to include in a diabetic diet.
Regardless of source, the total amount of carbohydrate in the diet needs to be within the patient’s recommended limit. Blood sugar control may also be improved by choosing carbohydrates which are high in soluble fiber. Some researchers believe that fiber has no measurable benefit unless it is added to the diet in very large amounts. Soy fiber is extremely fermentable in humans, and therefore may have more physiological benefits than some other types.
Supplemental soy fiber may also help by slowing absorption of sugars. In kidney disease, a soy-based diet may be preferable to the traditional low protein diet for decreasing renal damage. Soy provides high quality protein, without stimulating hyperfiltration and proteinuria. It may also help prevent kidney damage by lowering serum LDL cholesterol levels.
Cardiovascular disease is two to four times as common in diabetics as in the general population. Therefore it is important for diabetics to follow the standard recommendations for heart health. More research is needed to clarify the possible benefits of soy in a diabetic diet.
Fresh soymilk is low in saturated fat, rich in the essential fatty acids and is an excellent source of vitamin E. Like all plant fats, soybean oil has no cholesterol.
The soybean is the world’s leading source of edible oil.
Though uncommon, food allergies can have serious consequences. The incidence of true food allergy is about 1% to 2% in adults, and 5% to 8% in young children. Often soymilk and tofu can take the place of the more allergenic foods, such as cow’s milk and eggs. However, some people are also allergic to soy. Those who are allergic to soy may be able to tolerate some soyfoods, but not others.
It is important for these people to read food labels and familiarize themselves with the ingredients. Children often outgrow their allergies within a few years. The most common food allergies are to cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, and fish, although any food can be potentially allergenic.
The best treatment for a food allergy is complete avoidance of the allergenic food. This means that alternative foods must be found to provide the missing nutrients. Identifying alternative foods is especially crucial in the case of young children because they are in a phase of rapid growth and development.
Soy-based infant formulas have been used since 1929 to feed infants with cow’s milk protein allergies. Today’s soy formulas are equivalent to cow’s milk formulas in digestibility, nutritional profile, and acceptability. In healthy infants, soy formulas promote normal growth, nutritional status, and bone mineralization.