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The Joy of Soy: Health Benefits

By Ruth Bird

My husband has MS, and I have Diabetes. Researching health issues has become a "hobby" of mine. I am always interested in health issues. I am especially interested in soy because I am constantly looking for protein to balance my diabetic meals. I am not a meat eater, although I am not a vegetarian either. I believe that knowledge is my best defense.

Soy milk (also called soymilk, soya milk, soybean milk, soy bean milk, or soy drink) is a beverage produced from soybeans.

Soy milk originated in East Asia, a region where soybean consumption in food and beverages is common.

Although its English name uses the word "milk", due to its common use as a milk substitute in Western societies, it is actually a juice extracted from soybeans after soaking, grinding, cooking and straining. It is generally opaque, white or off-white in color, and approximately the same consistency as cow's milk.

Soy Low in fat, rich in protein, soy has become a staple in vegetarian diets. Soy contains essential fatty acids, phytoestrogens, vitamin E and natural anti-inflammatory agents.

Eating enough soy protein and soy isoflavones is essential to obtain soy's full benefits. An international panel of leading soy researchers determined that 100 to 160 milligrams of soy isoflavones per day are likely needed to achieve all of the potential benefits of soy isoflavones. The FDA states that 25 grams of soy protein per day, with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Studies show soy isoflavones, the active components of soybean, help increases bone density, thus maintain bone health. Soy isoflavones act as mild estrogens that provide support through menopause. In addition, soy isoflavones promote healthy cholesterol levels without lowering levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol.

Another study shows that soy consumption supports healthier metabolism of dihydrotestosterone and testosterone in younger men. This is critical for support of healthier prostate tissues and prostate function. I hope you have a good weekend.

RESEARCH UPDATE: Soy Protein Exerts Minor Effects on Serum Reproductive Hormones in Healthy Young Men

OBJECTIVE. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of dietary soy with different isoflavone concentrations on serum hormones in healthy young men.

STUDY DESIGN. This study was conducted as a randomized, crossover trial with three groups. Young adult men 20 - 40 years of age were randomly assigned to consume either (1) a milk protein isolate (MPI) (0 mg isoflavones/day), (2) a low-isoflavone soy protein isolate (SPI) (~2 mg isoflavones/day), or (3) a high-isoflavone SPI (~62 mg isoflavones/day) for 57 days. Blood samples were collected on days 1, 29, and 57 of the study and serum reproductive hormones were quantified.

RESULTS. Both the low- and high-isoflavone soy groups had lower levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and lower ratios of DHT/testosterone compared to the group receiving the milk protein isolate.

CONCLUSION. The results of this clinical trial indicate that soy with low or high isoflavone content can lower serum concentrations of DHT and reduce the DHT/testosterone ratio. The authors suggest that these changes may have beneficial effects on prostate health support, but that this requires further investigation.

MEDICAL REFERENCE: Dillingham BL, McVeigh BL, Lampe JW, Duncan AM. Soy protein isolates of varying isoflavone content exert minor effects on serum reproductive hormones in healthy young men. Journal of Nutrition 2005; 135:584-591.

Soy milk is found in many vegan and vegetarian food products and be used as a replacement for cow's milk in most recipes. Such substitution has a low impact on foods like pancakes, but there is a noticeable difference when making foods such as macaroni and cheese or quiche.

"Sweet" and "salty" soy milk are both traditional Chinese breakfast foods, usually accompanied by breads like mantou (steamed rolls), youtiao (fried crullers), and shaobing (sesame flatbread). The soy milk is typically sweetened by adding cane sugar or, sometimes, simple syrup. Tofu is produced from soy milk by further steps of curdling and then draining.

Health benefits aside, I love Soy and it's various products. Especially the soy drinks. I find they work perfect into my personal diet. They're also low in calories and carbs. They have become my personal favorite protein.

Medical Disclaimer: This site is designed for educational purposes only and should not be used in any other manner. This information is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice.

About The Author
My name is Ruth Bird. I have been married for 27 years to my husband, Chris. Chris has been battling the monster, MS, for a number of years. People and Pet Health Care are my passions.

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