The Health Benefits of Soya
By Dietitian Juliette Kellow BSc RD
Soya is packed with good quality protein and is the only plant food that contains all the essential amino acids (protein building blocks) needed for good health, making it comparable to meat, fish, eggs and dairy products.
This makes it a particularly important food for vegetarians and vegans.
Soya protein has been shown to help reduce cholesterol. In fact, it’s cholesterol-lowering benefits are now so well established that soya products that contain at least 5g of soya protein per serving are allowed to make the following claim on their packaging:
‘The inclusion of at least 25g of soya protein per day as part of a diet low in saturated fat can help reduce blood cholesterol levels.’
Soya is also a good source of naturally occurring plant compounds called phytoestrogens, especially isoflavones.
These have a similar structure to the hormone oestrogen and have a very weak oestrogen-like effect in the body.
While more research is needed, some studies have shown that a diet rich in isoflavones may help reduce some of the unpleasant symptoms of the menopause such as hot flushes and may help to protect against osteoporosis (brittle bone disease) by keeping bones stronger for longer.
Soya Nutritional Value
Don’t swap dairy for soya – research shows low-fat dairy products may aid weight loss, although more studies are needed to confirm this.
Instead, include more soya products such as soya beans, yogurt-style desserts and drinks to your diet, in addition to dairy.
As always, check the nutrition information though to check they’re not packed with added sugars.
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