Soy – Safe or Harmful Food?

Soy is a legume plant whose origin can be traced to East Asia. It is widely cultivated in most parts of the world and is a major export commodity crop for many countries. Soy is cultivated for its rich edible soybeans, which is prepared as food in various ways. Soy bean is highly nutritious, containing carbohydrates, sugars, oil, dietary fiber, varied fats, proteins, tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, tyrosine, valine, water, serine, water, vitamins A, B6, B12, C and K, minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc and phosphorus). Unlike other protein obtained from other soy free sources, soy protein is whole, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids. Soy bean is also a good source of soy lectin (a phospholipid), which is valuable in baking.

Available as vegetable oil, soy oil is very nutritious. Soy oil is obtained by cracking soy nuts and treated with solvents. The oil is refined and blended for different applications, including for cooking vegetables. The remaining soy pulp contains a lot of soy protein and used as animal and poultry and dog food. Soy nuts are also dried and ground to produce super soy floor, which is used as a starting material in the production of soy concentrates. Soy nutrition is relatively safe for infants and varied soy nutrition infant formulations are commercially available. Soy product manufactures process soy beans in various ways; soy powder is used as ingredient in formulating various dairy product substitutes. Such include soy milk, soy ice cream, soy cheese and soy margarine amongst other substitute products. Soya milk is one of the most common and popular soy product available. Soy powder is also used as ingredient in the making of various cosmetics including soaps.

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Health Benefits of Soy

Eating soy recipes is very beneficial to the body. The alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) is essential for many body functions. Soya beans contain natural phenols such as isoflavones soy and glyceollins. While isoflavones soy is very effective in preventing the occurrence of cancer, glyceollins are antifungal. The importance of soy recipes as blood cholesterol lowering food cannot be underestimated. Soy recipes such as tofu have in fact been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration authority as appropriate food in not only lowering blood cholesterol but also for a healthy heart. Phytic acid available in soy formula preparations is a very powerful antioxidant with the capacity to fight carcinogenic cells within the body. It also minimizes the effects of diabetes symptoms.

Health Risk’s of Consuming Soy

Like with any medication, food or supplement, soy formula products have their own unique health risks. Which include:

  • Allergy – Soy allergy is a common health condition. This is particular in children fed on soya milk and tofu. Vomitting and diarrhea are some of soy allergy symptoms.
  • Phytoestrogen – Isoflavones soy found in soybeans contain soy estrogens that although weak can bind to human estrogen sites and reduce their activity.
  • Increased risk of breast cancer – Soy oil, soy powder and soy tofu all are all soy recipes with the capacity to fight carcinogenic cells in the body. However, women who use these products when already having breast cancer put themselves at increased risk of seeing their condition deteriorate.

Various studies and research are still underway to discover other hidden soy benefits. Damages of soy so far reported have been noted to occur because of excess usage of soy formula products in the market that are manufactured in unhygienic conditions.

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