Throughout the 1990’s, there was a big craze where people started to eat a lot more soy in their diets. Because it was easily available and low in calories, it made for a perfect part of a vegetarian diet. Soy comes from the soybean (or soya bean) that originated in Asia, but has spread around the world. Now, the United States is the leading producer in soy with Brazil coming in at a close second.
We’ve seen quite a few people shying away from soy as they try newer vegetarian fads, but soy certainly shouldn’t be forgotten. There are different ways that soy can be prepared, as well. Between oil, sauce and even milk, soy is very versatile in the culinary world. However you’re getting your soy, you’re doing yourself a favor. Here is what the nutritional breakdown of soy looks like, and the tremendous health benefits it brings.
Nutrition of Soy
For about 3.5 ounces of boiled and matured soybeans, you’re getting right around 175 calories in each serving. The good news is that the carbohydrate count is low in that serving, with just under 10 grams. In the fat department, you’re getting nine grams, but only 1.3 of those will be saturated fat. Protein is a big one here, as there’s around one third of your daily recommendation. Cholesterol’s always a big concern for people, and soybeans don’t contain any.
There are plenty of beneficial vitamins and minerals in soybeans. Starting with the vitamins, you get a quarter of your daily vitamin K and more than 10 percent of your thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and folate needs. While not in high amounts, you’ll even find vitamin C, vitamin E and niacin. Manganese is the biggest mineral in soy, with nearly half of your daily recommendation. The minerals that clock in at more than 20 percent include iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper. More than 10 percent (but less than 20 percent) include calcium, potassium and selenium, with a little bit of zinc thrown in.
Good For the Heart
Soybeans have been shown to be incredibly beneficial for your heart health in a few different ways. For starters, research shows that eating between 20 and 60 grams of soy each day lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol while also increasing HDL (good) cholesterol. A big part of this is that even though soy does carry some fat, it’s very low in saturated fat. Your body does need a low amount of saturated fat to protect organs, and soy fits the right macros.
The fiber content in soy is also beneficial for your heart, as well as some important fatty acids that are shown to lower cholesterol and balance blood pressure. With heart disease being one of the biggest killers in the world, you need to be conscious of your heart health. Eating soy is definitely one of the ways to help yourself.
While eating too much soy has been said to be a negative for your digestive health, eating the recommended amount is going to bring a lot of benefits. The main component of soy’s benefit for digestion is the high fiber content. Fiber is essential in creating probiotics in the gut that keep you regular, keeping problems such as diarrhea and constipation at bay. You’ll even get a boost to your metabolism as you can burn more calories with a healthy digestive system.
A healthy amount of fiber in your diet has also been shown to lower your chances of certain types of cancer. Some studies have shown that the proper amount of fiber slashes your risk of colon cancer by nearly half. You’ll even notice that day-to-day, getting a proper amount of fiber just makes you feel better with more energy.
Because soy contains so many antioxidants, you’ll be able to prevent many different diseases that could afflict the body. Antioxidants are essential for your body to fight off free radicals, which can attack cells and cause chronic diseases such as cancer. Not only that, but you also prevent minor diseases that can include a simple head cold. Unfortunately, not many of us think about getting enough nutrients to fight off colds until we already have one.
Since soy contains the high amount of fiber that balances your digestive system, you’ll lower your chances of colon cancer. Because soy contains nutrients like iron that help bring oxygen to your blood, you can even avoid neurological diseases down the road. It also helps in your day-to-day world, especially if you have insomnia. It’s been shown that more magnesium in your body leads to better sleep, and soy has plenty of the mineral.
Whether you’re looking to lose weight or pack some on, soy can help you depending on how much you eat. If you’re eating the recommended amount as part of your diet and watching your overall calories, soy can help you feel full for longer thanks to the fiber without bringing on too many calories. The digestive benefit also boosts your metabolism so that you can burn more fat throughout the day.
If you’re looking to put on weight, you could eat more soy in your diet to increase your calorie count in a healthy way. You can increase the amount of protein so that you’re also putting on muscle, while also avoiding unhealthy sugars and fats. So if you’re underweight, try eating more soy in your diet instead of ordering a ton of fast food meals to get up to a normal and healthy weight.
Many of the minerals that you’ll find in soy are essential to building your bone health. Soy contains zinc, calcium and other minerals that will keep your bones healthy without losing density over time. Losing bone density is common as you get older, which can lead to problems such as osteoporosis. Eating more soy in your diet can help you prevent those problems and keep you at a healthy weight that makes your joints feel better.
Summing it Up
While soy has always been considered a healthy option by many experts in the medical field, there seems to be some sort of backlash over the past few years when it comes to potential drawbacks. So what are some of those warnings that people have been giving in that time? Some will say that the way soy is grown with chemicals could be harmful, but that’s not a problem if you’re getting soy from a reputable source.
Some of the other problems come from digestion if you eat too much soy, as it can be high in phytates that don’t allow your body to absorb all of the minerals. This could lead to a vitamin deficiency if you’re eating a lot of soy on a daily basis without having a well rounded diet. These aren’t concerns if you’re only eating soy a couple of times per week. You also want to keep track of the sodium and MSG in certain types of soy, so always look at the nutritional label. As long as you’re smart about your diet, there’s no reason why soy can’t be a part of it and bring you fantastic health benefits!