If you are anything like I was before I learned about soybeans, you may have heard of them but never really given them much thought. You may not realize exactly what they are other than some type of bean (although they aren’t even a bean). Well, you aren’t alone in that predicament as many people don’t know very much about them.
Soybeans (also known as soya beans in some cultures) are not actually a bean, but they are a part of the legume family and are native to eastern Asia. This legume, a member of the pea family, is now also grown in South and North America. The seed of the soybean plant is the part that is consumed by humans.
You are more likely to have encountered soy in a processed form such as soy flour, soy protein, soy milk, soy sauce, and soybean oil. Tofu also contains processed soy product. This article will not be discussing the processed soy products, but it will instead focus on the benefits of the soybean in its whole, natural form.
10 Surprising Soybeans Benefits
1. They are an excellent source of protein.
Soybeans are a great alternative to meat because they offer a decent amount of protein. The protein content isn’t quite as high as what you will find in animal meat, so you will have to consume more of them to make up for it. That is easy to do, however, making them an option for you if you are wanting to limit the amount of meat you eat or if you have a protein deficiency.
In just one cup of cooked legumes, you will find about 29 grams of protein. By consuming the protein from soy instead of meat protein, you may see a significant decrease in your cholesterol levels, as well.
2. They are low in carbohydrates.
Since these legumes are low in carbs, they are a good option for anyone who is cutting carbs from their diet. They are also healthy for someone who is diabetic, as the low carbs mean that your blood sugar won’t rise to a high level after the meal.
3. They have a decent amount of fiber.
Soybeans contain two kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers improve your gut health and reduce the chance that you will get colon cancer. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, can help relieve constipation, reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease, and offer many other health benefits.
4. They are full of vitamins and minerals.
While this legume may seem simple, it is actually full of many vitamins and minerals. The vitamins are necessary for everyone, but there is more good news for pregnant women. Soya beans carry vitamins that are highly essential during pregnancy so it is particularly recommended for pregnant women.
Some of the vitamins include:
- Vitamin K1
- Vitamin B9 (folate)
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
5. They may reduce the risk of cancer.
Through observation studies, scientists have found a link between soy consumption and reduced cancer instances. While an exact reason hasn’t been determined, there is a theory that is being explored. This theory is that since soy contains the compounds isoflavones and lunasin, which have been linked to preventing breast and prostate cancer, it is offering slight protection from those types of cancer.
6. They can lessen the symptoms of menopause.
Every woman can expect to go through menopause just after middle age so if you’re a female, this one is for you. Menopause commonly causes excess sweating, hot flashes, mood swings, and many other undesirable symptoms. Luckily, the isoflavones in soya beans (the same compound that may prevent cancer) lessen the effects.
7. They may prevent osteoporosis.
When you get older you may experience osteoporosis, which is when your bone density reduces and fractures often occur. This occurs more often in women, but men are at risk, as well. The reason behind this prevent is, once again, the isoflavones.
8. They can increase your metabolism.
Your body’s metabolism increases only when it has received enough protein. Since these legumes contain a sufficient amount of protein, they also can increase your metabolism. This is helpful if you are trying to lose weight, maintain your weight, or are just trying to raise it a little.
9. They can improve your overall circulation.
The copper and iron found in soybeans are plentiful enough to make up the entire amount that you need in a day. Both of those minerals are required for red blood cell (RBC) production which, in turn, leads to proper circulation. Without the proper amount of either mineral, your limbs or organs may not get the blood flow (and oxygen) that it needs.
If your body parts aren’t getting this it can lead to you feeling fatigued and lazy, and it can lead to lower metabolism. Another issue is that a deficiency may cause anemia. An easy way to avoid these problems is to consume food that contains a high amount of copper and iron, such as soy.
10. They offer natural relief to sleep disorders.
Another benefit is that this legume can aid in the reduction of sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and other disorders. The high magnesium content of legumes allows even those with sleep disorders to fall asleep easier at night. It is also responsible for a higher quality of sleep, the duration, and restfulness you feel the next day.
Researches at the University of Kentucky tested this and their results proved that it is true. Their results can be further reviewed in the Plant Physiology Journal.
While there are many soybeans benefits, there are also a couple of warnings when it comes to including these in your diet. The warnings won’t affect many, but it is important for you to be informed just in case. Listed below are the individuals who may be affected.
Those with hypothyroidism
Soy has been linked to suppressed thyroid hormones, which could be extremely detrimental if you have hypothyroidism. If you have lower than normal thyroid function but not quite hypothyroidism, you should also avoid these legumes so that you don’t drop into the hypothyroidism category. This does not seem to affect those with normal functioning thyroids, however.
Those with a weak stomach or Irritable Bowel Syndrome
As stated before, each soybean contains a decent amount of fiber. This fiber is usually a good thing but if you have a sensitive stomach or suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) you should be careful of too much fiber as it can exasperate the symptoms. Those with a sensitive stomach may experience excess gas and diarrhea from consuming foods that contain fiber.
Those With a Soy Allergy
This is kind of an obvious one that doesn’t really need an explanation, but if you have a soy allergy, you should avoid touching even a single soybean. Just like all allergens, it can cause a dangerous, sometimes deadly, reaction if you have the allergy.
Typically, the reaction will just show up as hives, but you have to use caution because the reaction could be much worse.
How You Can Easily Incorporate Legumes Into Your Diet
You can incorporate more legumes into your diet in a number of ways. One of the easiest and most popular ways to do this is to boil your soya beans in water and then serve them as a side dish. They pair well with most types of food, so it is typically a safe choice.
Another easy way to include soybeans in your diet is to roast them in the oven for a healthy snack. This method will make them crunchy, and you can season them however you want.
You can also put soya beans into your soups and pasta dishes. One method is to simply cook the legumes in the soup or pasta, and eat it as a regular part of the meal. The other method is to puree the soya beans and make a sauce out of it, which will be used in the soup or the pasta.
Surprised to Learn the Many Uses of Soybeans?
For some reason, soya beans seem to be a little bit of a mystery to most people. Since that is the case, many facts about soy are unknown to even those who regularly consume it. It is important for you to know all there is to know about soy, however, as they can be an excellent addition or replacement in your diet.
The soybeans benefits seem to positively affect almost every part of your body in some way. While some people do have to be careful when consuming these legumes and others may have to avoid them completely, most people won’t experience or be affected by the warnings.
You could try to start simply with soy, and add them to a soup or pasta dish. If you seem to like them that way, eat them boiled as a side dish or roast them as a snack. There is a method for everyone to try, so you are sure to find something that you will love and that will benefit your health.