About Soy

Soybean Components Make Soy Foods Enticing When it Comes to Good Health

The dramatic rise in soy research beginning in the early 1990s can be attributed primarily to the new interest in isoflavones. This interest is directly evidenced by the number of peer-reviewed journal articles that were published between 1990 and 2000. In the year 1990, there were 131 isoflavone-related articles indexed by PubMed. In 1995, there were 534. In the year 2000, there were 976.

It was during these early years that isoflavones were first posited to reduce risk of several chronic diseases including coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, breast cancer and prostate cancer. Interest in understanding how isoflavones impact these diseases has continued to the present day.

Despite all the interest in isoflavones, in 1995, soy protein stole the spotlight from isoflavones in a big way when Anderson and colleagues1showed that soy protein markedly lowered elevated LDL-cholesterol levels. Four years later a health claim was approved by the FDA for soy protein and coronary heart disease2 and six years after that, soy protein was being proposed as a promising anti-hypertension agent.3

As highlighted above, both the protein and isoflavones in soybeans have contributed to excitement about the health benefits of soy foods. Of course, for consumers of traditional soy foods such as tofu, miso, tempeh and soymilk (made from whole soybeans), one might think it doesn’t matter much whether it is the isoflavones or proteins that are responsible for a given health benefit because these foods are rich in both components. However, in some cases it actually does.

Let’s consider the cases of hot flash alleviation and cholesterol reduction. Evidence indicates that the former requires the consumption of approximately 50-60 mg of isoflavones per day,4 whereas for cholesterol reduction, data suggest 25 g of soy protein per day are required.2 Given that in traditional soy foods, each gram of protein is associated with about 3.5 mg isoflavones, hot flash alleviation requires the consumption of about two servings.5 However, those two servings would provide only about 14 g of protein, probably not enough to lower cholesterol.

As far as general dietary advice goes, the focus should be on overall dietary pattern rather than on eating foods to obtain a specific amount of a given nutrient or phytochemical. There are many reasons why nutrition scientists have moved toward highlighting dietary patterns, rather than specific amounts of dietary components, such as fiber. The biggest one is that it is a lot easier to identify dietary patterns associated with disease risks than it is to establish with confidence which components of those diets are reasonable for the observed benefits.

Diet is a complex mixture of hundreds of biologically active components that may work additively and synergistically to produce a given effect. Nevertheless, when good data are available, knowing the amount of isoflavones or soy protein needed for a specific effect is quite informative when making soy intake recommendations.

Finally, it would be remiss not to mention that soybeans and soy foods are a lot more than protein and isoflavones. To this point, the high polyunsaturated fat content of soy foods is a well-established benefit of eating these foods. From a health perspective, there are lots of soybean components that make soy foods enticing.

By: Mark Messina, Ph.D.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR – SOY NUTRITION INSTITUTE
Dr. Mark Messina is a nationally recognized expert on the health effects of soy.

SOURCES AND REFERENCES
Anderson JW, Johnstone BM, Cook-Newell ME. Meta-analysis of the effects of soy protein intake on serum lipids. N Engl J Med. 1995;333(5):276-82.
Food labeling: health claims; soy protein and coronary heart disease. Food and Drug Administration, HHS. Final rule. Fed Regist. 1999;64(206):57700-33.
Cartagena AM. Soy protein: the next antihypertensive agent? CMAJ. 2005;173(5):486.
Taku K, Melby MK, Kronenberg F, et al. Extracted or synthesized soybean isoflavones reduce menopausal hot flash frequency and severity: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Menopause. 2012;19(7):776-90.
Messina M, Nagata C, Wu AH. Estimated Asian adult soy protein and isoflavone intakes. Nutr Cancer. 2006;55(1):1-12

The role of soy in nutrition for developing countries

Wilna Oldewage-Theron Ph.D. and Registered Dietitian (South Africa) shares soy’s role in global food security and how it contributes to overcoming the stubborn challenges of stunting and obesity. Oldewage-Theron is a professor of Nutrition at Texas Tech University (USA) & Adjunct Professor University of Zululand (South Africa)

It is estimated that one in nine people in the world still has insufficient food for an active and healthy life. Of these undernourished people, the majority live in developing countries1. Undernourishment is characterized by protein-energy malnutrition (stunting, wasting and underweight) as well as micronutrient deficiencies (for eg. vitamins A, D, B6, B12, zinc and iron).  On the other hand, worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 19802. Obesity is often associated with lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and blood pressure. Lifestyle diseases have also become a challenge in developing countries because of the increasing prevalence of obesity and socio-economic difficulties that may result in poor diets, causing the most disadvantaged to be most at risk3. This situation of under- and over nutrition may sometimes occur in the same population or household and is called the double burden of disease.

The benefits associated with the regular consumption of soy, in combination with other healthy foods, have been scientifically proven and are becoming more relevant to prevent or address the negative consequences of the double burden of disease4.

High-quality protein is often missing from the diets of undernourished children in developing countries5. Not only does soy contain all the essential amino acids that children need to grow, but it also provides some of the essential micronutrients such as folic acid, vitamins B1, B2 and E, zinc, iron, magnesium and calcium to the diet4. Furthermore, soy is lactose free and can be used instead of cow’s or goat’s milk when infants or children have a lactose intolerance or are allergic to cow’s milk. Soy is also gluten free and can be included in gluten free diets.

Soy is not only beneficial for the undernourished, but is a heart-healthy food because of the low content of saturated fat and high content of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. Soy further contains no cholesterol and protects against heart disease by assisting with the reduction of both blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure6.  Soy is also a good source of dietary fibre that promotes not only gut health, but also provides a feeling of satiety and fullness that reduces hunger cravings that are beneficial for overweight people or people that are trying to maintain their weight. Soy has a lower glycemic index that keeps blood glucose levels more stable and is thus also recommended as a diabetic food. The anti-cancer properties of soy (isoflavones and phytochemicals) provide protection against various cancers such as breast, prostrate, skin, stomach and colon cancer4.

Besides all the health benefits, soy is an affordable and very versatile food for use in developing countries.  Soy protein is much cheaper compared to other high-quality protein sources such as eggs, chicken and beef respectively7,8. Soy beans are also less economical to farm and can produced by small scale farmers in developing countries. Furthermore, soy is versatile and can be used on its’ own as soy milk, yoghurt or  tofu for example or as in ingredient in high-protein meat replacements, energy bars, protein- enriched cereals and baked goods, and many more9.

To conclude, soy has been identified as an economical and versatile food item that will not only provide essential nutrients for under-nutrition, but also additional and unique health benefits addressing the increasing prevalence of over-nutrition in developing countries.

References:

  1. FAO, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) & World Food Programme (WFP). 2015. The state of food insecurity in the world. Rome: FAO.
  2. World Health Organization (WHO). 2015. Obesity and overweight. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/. Accessed: May 13, 2015.
  3. Ochoa-Avilés A, Verstraeten R, Lachat C, Andrade S, Van Camp J, Donoso S & Kolsteren P. 2014. Dietary intake practices associated with cardiovascular risk in urban and rural Ecuadorian adolescents: a cross-sectional study. BMC public health, 14(1):1.
  4. Duvenage SS, Oldewage-Theron WH & Egal AA. 2016. Cooking joy with soy. Vanderbijlpark, South Africa: Vaal University of Technology.
  5. Hershey J. n.d. Soy plays a role in global nutrition efforts. Available at: www.soyconnection.com/neswletters/soy-connection/health-nutrition/articles/Soy-Plays-Role-In-Global-Efforts. Accessed: April 14, 2017.
  6. United States Food & Drug Administration. 2016. CFR- Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. Available at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=101.82. Accessed: Apr 14, 2017.
  7. 2010. News and Events. Available at: www.worldsoyfoundation.org/news&events/workshops/midwest/aug11/solae.pdf. Accessed: Aug 27, 2014.
  8. 2012. Introduction to Solae, United Soybean Board connections. Available at: www.unitedsoybean.org/wp-content/uploads/meal-human-petro.pdf. Accessed: Aug 27, 2014.
  9. Golbitz P. 2011. Using the power of soy to reduce malnutrition. World Soy Foundation.
  10. WilnaWilliamCabbagerolls-1-300x198

    Wilna Oldewage-Theron PhD RD(SA), Professor of Nutrition, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX

    It is estimated that one in nine people in the world still has insufficient food for an active and healthy life. Of these undernourished people, the majority live in developing countries1. Undernourishment is characterized by protein-energy malnutrition (stunting, wasting and underweight) as well as micronutrient deficiencies (for eg. vitamins A, D, B6, B12, zinc and iron). On the other hand, worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 19802. Obesity is often associated with lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and blood pressure. Lifestyle diseases have also become a challenge in developing countries because of the increasing prevalence of obesity and socio-economic difficulties that may result in poor diets, causing the most disadvantaged to be most at risk3. This situation of under- and over nutrition may sometimes occur in the same population or household and is called the double burden of disease.

    The benefits associated with the regular consumption of soy, in combination with other healthy foods, have been scientifically proven and are becoming more relevant to prevent or address the negative consequences of the double burden of disease4.

    High-quality protein is often missing from the diets of undernourished children in developing countries5. Not only does soy contain all the essential amino acids that children need to grow, but it also provides some of the essential micronutrients such as folic acid, vitamins B1, B2 and E, zinc, iron, magnesium and calcium to the diet4. Furthermore, soy is lactose free and can be used instead of cow’s or goat’s milk when infants or children have a lactose intolerance or are allergic to cow’s milk. Soy is also gluten free and can be included in gluten free diets.

    Soy is not only beneficial for the undernourished, but is a heart-healthy food because of the low content of saturated fat and high content of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. Soy further contains no cholesterol and protects against heart disease by assisting with the reduction of both blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure6. Soy is also a good source of dietary fibre that promotes not only gut health, but also provides a feeling of satiety and fullness that reduces hunger cravings that are beneficial for overweight people or people that are trying to maintain their weight. Soy has a lower glycemic index that keeps blood glucose levels more stable and is thus also recommended as a diabetic food. The anti-cancer properties of soy (isoflavones and phytochemicals) provide protection against various cancers such as breast, prostrate, skin, stomach and colon cancer4.

    Besides all the health benefits, soy is an affordable and very versatile food for use in developing countries. Soy protein is much cheaper compared to other high-quality protein sources such as eggs, chicken and beef respectively7,8. Soy beans are also economical to farm and can produced by small scale farmers in developing countries. Furthermore, soy is versatile and can be used on its’ own as soy milk, yoghurt or tofu for example or as in ingredient in high-protein meat replacements, energy bars, protein- enriched cereals and baked goods, and many more9.

    To conclude, soy has been identified as an economical and versatile food item that will not only provide essential nutrients for under-nutrition, but also additional and unique health benefits addressing the increasing prevalence of over-nutrition in developing countries.

    References:

    FAO, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) & World Food Programme (WFP). 2015. The state of food insecurity in the world. Rome: FAO.
    World Health Organization (WHO). 2015. Obesity and overweight. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/. Accessed: May 13, 2015.
    Ochoa-Avilés A, Verstraeten R, Lachat C, Andrade S, Van Camp J, Donoso S & Kolsteren P. 2014. Dietary intake practices associated with cardiovascular risk in urban and rural Ecuadorian adolescents: a cross-sectional study. BMC public health, 14(1):1.
    Duvenage SS, Oldewage-Theron WH & Egal AA. 2016. Cooking joy with soy. Vanderbijlpark, South Africa: Vaal University of Technology.
    Hershey J. n.d. Soy plays a role in global nutrition efforts. Available at: www.soyconnection.com/neswletters/soy-connection/health-nutrition/articles/Soy-Plays-Role-In-Global-Efforts. Accessed: April 14, 2017.
    United States Food & Drug Administration. 2016. CFR- Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. Available at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=101.82. Accessed: Apr 14, 2017.
    2010. News and Events. Available at: www.worldsoyfoundation.org/news&events/workshops/midwest/aug11/solae.pdf. Accessed: Aug 27, 2014.
    2012. Introduction to Solae, United Soybean Board connections. Available at: www.unitedsoybean.org/wp-content/uploads/meal-human-petro.pdf. Accessed: Aug 27, 2014.
    Golbitz P. 2011. Using the power of soy to reduce malnutrition. World Soy Foundation.

 

 

Comments are closed