The soybean is among nature’s extraordinary gifts, rich in numerous micronutrients that enhance human health. Soy is among the handful of complete plant-based proteins containing all nine essential amino acids. Therefore, it is the leading plant-based protein among Americans who prefer meat-free diets.
Besides dietary consumption, soy is also an invaluable ingredient in skincare products. The legume has multiple benefits that enhance skin health; hence, multiple skin care product manufacturers are developing essential products like cleansers, moisturizers, creams, and lotions with soy as the primary active ingredient. Below is an overview of soy protein’s benefits for overall health and skin.
As stated earlier, soy is a superfood with an exceptional amount of protein (36%-56% of crude protein in dry weight). Moreover, besides protein, the legume has an outstanding overall nutritional density. The nutrient density in food is its valuable nutrient content against its energy content expressed as a ratio.
Soy is a rich dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids, B complex vitamins, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron. Although the nutrient content may vary slightly depending on the soy food type, soy remains an invaluable nutrient source for meeting the recommended daily intake (RDI) for various.
Consequently, the U.S. soy industry is the second-largest globally, rivaled only by China. Besides being a complete protein ideal for a meat substitute in meat-free diets, soy foods cost significantly less than animal protein sources.
Soy Lowers Hormonal Cancers Risk
Hormone-related cancers (the most common being breast and prostate) typically arise from hormone proliferation, leading to the rapid reproduction of cancerous cells. Initially, early research erroneously associated soy protein consumption with the development of breast cancer cell proliferation.
However, one recent research study counters the earlier notion and shows that soy potentially exerts cancer-preventive effects among pre-menopausal women. Such counter-preventative effects include increased menstrual cycle length, decreased estrogen (primary female sex hormone) levels, and increased sex hormone-binding levels.
Besides a high nutritional density, soy protein contains phytochemicals, predominantly isoflavone. Isoflavone is a phytoestrogen (plant-based estrogen-like compound) that modulates estrogen levels.
As stated earlier, hormone proliferation is the primary cause of hormonal cancer, with elevated estrogen serum levels associated with cancerous mammary cell proliferation. However, soy protein consumption helps lower mammary cancer cell proliferation by keeping estrogen serum levels from spiking or plummeting beyond optimum levels.
On the other hand, the popular yet incorrect notion was that soy protein consumption led to feminization among males. However, one study shows that isoflavone and two other soy protein phytochemicals (genistein and daidzein) accumulate in prostatic tissue and are cytotoxic (death-inducing) to cancerous cells.
Soy Promotes Heart Health
Cardiovascular disease is a significant health concern in the US, with one statistical report showing that 20.1 million American adults aged at least 20 have cardiovascular disease. Moreover, cardiovascular disease is a risk factor for other metabolic diseases that could lead to stroke or heart attack. Fortunately, regular soy protein consumption can help lower the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
One study recommends regular soy protein consumption to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Moreover, the study further highlights that the American Heart Association recommends taking at least 25mg of soy protein with phytoestrogen in a low saturated fat diet daily to reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Soy Helps Manage Menopause Symptoms
Menopause is more of a phase than an incident, and the unfortunate fact about this phase is that it comes with undesirable symptoms resulting from plummeting estrogen levels. Such symptoms include hair loss, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, abdominal weight gain, slow metabolism, mood changes, and insomnia.
Besides the physical symptoms highlighted above, menopausal symptoms also increase the risk of developing psychological disorders like anxiety and depression. The elevated risk of psychological disorders arises because estrogen helps maintain serotonin (feel-good hormone) levels.
Fortunately, soy protein is an effective remedy for tackling menopausal symptoms. For starters, one study shows that the isoflavone in soy is one-third as effective in reducing hot flashes; hot flashes are the most prevalent menopausal symptom. Besides hot flashes, soy protein helps prevent hair loss and reduce the risk of bone disease in menopausal women.
Facilitates Weight Loss
Obesity is another significant health concern, with statistics showing that 41.9% of American adults are obese. The condition is a metabolic disorder that increases your risk of developing other metabolic disorders, like insulin resistance and type II diabetes. Moreover, obesity is a risk factor for heart disease.
However, soy protein consumption is emerging as an effective remedy for tackling obesity. According to one study, soy protein consumption improves insulin resistance while reducing body fat. Although more research is necessary to establish soy’s mechanism of action in facilitating weight loss, one theory is that its fiber content promotes satiety. Also, its fatty acid content prevents saturated fat absorption.
Soy Improves Skin Health
Besides improving health functions inside the body, soy protein also works its magic on the skin’s surface. As stated earlier, soy is a key ingredient in chemical-free skincare products.
Soy protein alleviates common skin problems, including hyperpigmentation and acne, and reduces the appearance of aging. Moreover, plant-based protein is a potent moisturizer.
The protein contains antioxidants that prevent oxidative stress damage to the skin. Moreover, it enhances collagen production, forms a protective barrier that prevents moisture loss, and keeps the skin soft and supple.
Soy protein is a superfood offering outstanding health benefits whether ingested or applied topically. However, too much of anything is harmful, so consult a nutritionist on the ideal soy protein intake for maximum health and skin benefits.