According to tradition, soy beans were one of the five sacred crops named by the Chinese emperor Sheng-nung, nearly 5 thousand years ago.
Recent increased interest in the health benefits of the soy bean has focused on the possible role of soy bean consumption reducing cancer risk, heart disease, menopausal symptoms ie hot flushes and osteoporosis.
Soy beans are an excellent source of fibre, Vitamin B12 and many other vitamins and minerals and they contain high amounts of proteins, including all the amino acids, which makes them an important food for vegetarians.
The phytochemicals contained in the soybean, known as isoflavones ie Genistein and Daidzein, are the active, most beneficial components.
Asian societies eat far more soybeans than Western society, as a result these women do not seem to suffer the consequences of menopause.
In a study done at the Royal Hospital for Women NSW, nine women were given 160 mg of isoflavones daily for three months, a significant reduction occurred in several menopausal symptoms, especially hot flushes.
In another study of post menopausal women, each were fed 40 gram of soy protein daily, containing 2.25 mg of total isoflavones, which resulted in a significant increase in bone mineral content and the bone mineral density in the lumbar spine, compared to the control group.
CANCER – Isoflavones have been shown to minimise the effect of synthetic estrogens that enter the body most commonly via the food chain, therefore soybean isoflavones may help reduce incidence of breast, endometrial, ovarian, colon and rectal cancers as they are thought to be estrogen dependent.
HEART DISEASE – The effect of soy protein on a group of children’s LDL’s was demonstrated. Compared to a standard low fat diet which can result in LDL reduction of 7 – 8%, a diet incorporating approximately 20 grams of soy protein isolate showed a decrease of 16 – 22%.
Genistein may benefit those with heart disease by its anti-clotting activity and inhibition of platelets sticking together.
Soy beans are both a nutrient packed food and an effective medicine.