Isoflavones belong to a group of phytochemicals normally present only in plants of the legume family. Isoflavones found in soy beans are therefore referred to as soybean isoflavones. In addition to that they are also a kind of plant hormone that are identical to the human estrogen in composition. Some of the best sources of soybean isoflavones include pure soy beans either as boiled or roasted. Other sources include miso, tempeh, and soy milk. Being found in soy beans, these isoflavones are rich in proteins, omega 3 fatty acids, lecithin, omega 6 fatty acids, several minerals, vitamins as well as fiber. Other properties exhibited in isoflavones include antioxidant and great hormonal properties. The history and discovery of soy isoflavones can be traced back to the 1940’s. This was after a study on sheep with fertility problems, proved that soy isoflavones were a good growth accelerator.
1. Curing menopausal symptoms
Since soy isoflavones contain a chemical structure that mimic estrogen, it is beneficial in easing menopausal systems. A number of studies have shown a reduction of Symptoms such as hot flashes, depression and insomnia in women consuming soy isoflavones. One such study is contained in a report released by the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) in October 2010. According to the report the weaker version of estrogen found in isoflavones work by blocking and prevent the natural and stronger form produced by the body from exhibiting its full effects.
2. Helps in healing osteoporosis
When the levels of estrogen go down after menopause, women become more prone to osteoporosis. This is because estrogen helps prevent bone destruction. Consuming soy isoflavones adds more estrogen to the body which not only help in increasing bone mass but also aid in the formation of new bones. The genistein and daidzein present in isoflavones help prevent bones from wearing out. Studies separately conducted by the Illinois, Texas and Hong Kong universities tend to support the ability of soy bean isoflavones to keep osteoporosis at bay. The study by Illinois and Hong Kong universities concur on the fact that soy isoflavones are great at improving bone density and mineral content. Texas University on the other hand confirmed that these phytochemicals highly increase the formation of new bones.
3. Promotes cardiovascular health
Firstly this is due to the antioxidant properties of soybean isoflavones. Secondly soy isoflavones also contain genisteins which help in preventing the growth of cells that aid in artery clogging. Clogged arteries increase the chances of a heart attack by forming blood clots. Thirdly soy also oxidizes bad cholesterol and encourages the accumulation good cholesterol which is a necessity for a healthy heart. Close to 38 scientific studies have been carried out and all support the power of soybean isoflavones in promoting cardiovascular health.
4. Reduces risk of cancer
This is so especially for endometrial and breast cancer. Soy isoflavones does this by reducing the cancer causing effects of estrogen especially in women who are close to or have already attained menopause. A team of researchers from US and China conducted a study that proved soy could reduce the risk of getting as well as prevent deaths caused by breast cancer. Their findings were published the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in July 2012.
Soybean isoflavones risks and side effects
Soy isoflavones can trigger digestive disorders especially in individuals with certain food allergies. Also too much consumption of soy can worsen certain types of cancers such as the uterine and ovarian cancer. The best thing is to know exactly what amount of soy isoflavones you should take in a day. Also if you have any serious health complications, consult a doctor before taking isoflavones either as supplements or naturally from soybeans and its products.
It is obvious from the mentioned studies that soy isoflavones can generally boost your overall health and wellbeing. Experts’ advice that soy isoflavones benefits are realized most when you take natural soy beans. One to two servings of soy per day is not that bad. However beginners are advised to add soy slowly into their diet until they get used to it.
Livestrong.com: Soy isoflavones side effects
Healthyeating.sfgate.com: Health benefits of soy isoflavones
Fwhc.org: The healing power of soy’s isoflavones
Wholehealthchicago.com: soy isoflavones