Some call it the “miracle bean”, some call it the “golden bean”, soya bean (Soybean) is a fantastic legume which bestows skin, hair and general health benefits.
High in protein and a good energy source, Soya bean is used as a vegetarian and lactose alternative for many foods. Although it has its origin in Asia, Soya has broken geographical boundaries to become the most widely cultivated legume in the world.
In fact, in Nigeria, towns as Owo, Gboko, Akure and Saki produce soya bean.
Nutritionists rate soya bean highly.
How Soya bean comes
Like other beans, the soya bean (Glycine max), grows in pods enclosing edible seeds. They are usually green but can be yellow, brown or black. The texture is so adaptable that soya beans are frequently processed into a variety of foods. At times, it is made into a drinkable form. Soya beans – also known as edamame beans when eaten fresh from the pod – are consumed as an alternative to meat. They are the basis of soya milk, tofu, miso, tempeh and soy protein.
The soya bean plant has its origin in China. There, it has been cultivated for well over 13,000 years. The ancient Chinese who regarded soya bean as a necessity for life, thus it is essential to them. Today, the soya bean is regarded as the most widely grown and utilised legume globally.
Since the 1970s there has been a noticeable increase in the consumption of traditional soy foods and the development of other soy foods which simulate traditional meat and dairy products such as soya milk, soy sausages, soy cheese and soy yoghurts.
Benefits Of Soya Beans
The salient benefits of soya are its high protein content, vitamins, minerals and insoluble fibre. The high fibre content makes soya beans and other soy containing foods inestimable in cases of constipation, high cholesterol and type -2 diabetes.
Soya helps lower risk of cancer
Soya contains phytoestrogens, chemicals found in plant foods. There are different types of phytoestrogens but the ones found in soya bean products are called isoflavones. Soya isoflavones (daidzein and genistein) have attracted a great deal of research and some studies suggest that certain women with a soy-rich diet may have a lower risk of breast cancer. However, it is not clear whether genetic makeup (which influences the way in which the body metabolises food) and environmental factors interact with the soya and therefore produce different effects on people.
Phytoestrogens have been found to help block the effects of excess oestrogen in the body, evening out any imbalance in the ratio between oestrogen and progesterone. They appear to work by locking into the oestrogen-receptor sites on cells and in doing so they block out the stronger natural oestrogens. They can, therefore, be helpful in improving symptoms of oestrogen dominance such as PMS and endometriosis.
Due to the phytoestrogen content of soya, many women decide to include it in their diet as they enter the menopause. During the menopause, the body’s natural production of oestrogen stops and symptoms may ensue. As phytoestrogens act as a weak oestrogen, they may help relieve symptoms by boosting levels slightly.
Soya is regarded as equal to animal foods in protein quality yet it is thought that plant protein is processed differently to animal proteins. For example, experimental studies have shown that soy protein isolates tend to lower cholesterol levels, in those people with typically high levels, while protein from animal sources may raise cholesterol levels.
Soya beans also contain compounds called phytosterols. These plant compounds are structurally similar to cholesterol and steroid hormones. They function to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol by blocking absorption sites. The cholesterol-lowering effects of phytosterols are well documented.
Genetics and environmental factors play a huge part in how our bodies react to certain foods, so as yet we can’t say whether a diet rich in phytoestrogenic foods is beneficial or not. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, soy-based foods can be an invaluable part of your diet.
Soya beans can help individuals control weight
Soybeans have been known to suppress the appetite, helping people eliminate the chances of overeating that leads to obesity and other health-related risks.
Also, soybeans provide considerable amounts of protein, which can lead to moderate weight gain when taken in large quantities. The weight obtained from soybeans could protect the individual from chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Soya beans can contribute to improving your sleep
Soybeans have a high content of magnesium, which is a mineral that is directly linked to improving the quality, duration, and tranquillity of sleep. Soybeans also help regulate the metabolism, to help reduce sleep disorders and the occurrence of insomnia.
Soybeans can contribute to improving circulation and oxygenation
Soybeans are rich in copper and iron. Both are essential for the red blood cell formation. Increased red blood cell production increases oxygen to the cells and improves the metabolic activity. This prevents conditions like anaemia.
Soybeans may help to improve your digestive health
Fibre can help prevent constipation and stimulate the contractions of the smooth muscles that forces food through your system. This aids in preventing dangerous conditions like colorectal cancer.
Soybeans can help decrease the risk of congenital disabilities
Soybeans are rich in the B-vitamin complex, particularly in folic acid. Folic acid helps the body to make healthy red blood cells and prevents anaemia. It is also important for maintaining rapid cell division and growth during infancy and pregnancy.
A deficiency of folic acid in pregnant women can lead to the birth of underweight infants and may also result in neural tube defects in newborns.
Soybeans have a significant vitamin and mineral density
Soybeans are an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, copper, selenium, and zinc. These have a role in preventing osteoporosis and help speed the bone healing process.