Are soya products healthy? New studies say yes. Here’s why.
Soya seems to help with cancer
The biggest controversy with soya products seems to be that its estrogen-mimicking isoflavones may cause cancer, and in particular breast cancer. However, in countries where soya is widely consumed such as China and Japan, women tend to be less prone to cancer than their western counterparts. A 2017 article published in the journal Cancer also revealed that in a nine-year study of women with breast cancer, those who consumed the most isoflavones from soya-based products were also less likely to die from cancer than those who had less soya foods. Since every individual’s circumstances is different, consult your doctor first to see if soya products may be suitable for you.
It decreases muscle loss
As we age, sarcopenia (or muscle loss) sets in and is made worse by a slower-paced sedentary lifestyle. On the upside, in a study done on mice, scientists at Japan’s Tokyo Institute of Technology have discovered that an isoflavone from soya products could help preserve muscle mass. More research needs to be done, but the researchers are optimistic that this discovery could help those with muscle wasting due to ageing or illness.
Soya milk is the best plant-based alternative to cow’s milk
Cow’s milk is supposedly nutritious, but if you’re allergic to dairy or lactose intolerant, having cow’s milk is simply out of the question. Although lifestyle gurus are touting nut- and rice-based milks as “healthier alternatives” to dairy, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology found that soya milk is actually most nutritionally similar to cow’s milk in terms of protein, carbohydrate and fat content. Some may complain about soya milk’s “beany” taste, which makes it tricky to pair with coffee or tea, but this is easily remedied if you’re making the soya milk yourself (super easy). Tips include soaking the beans for at least eight hours and changing the water once or twice, removing the shells, and boiling the soya mixture sufficiently to get rid of the raw bean taste.
Soya may make your bones stronger
We think of cow’s milk being good for bones, but here’s another way soya makes a good dairy replacement. In a lab test on rats, research from the University of Missouri in the US found that soya milk seemed to strengthen bones, a good thing to keep in mind since women tend to lose bone density after hitting menopause.
Soya helps with heart health
According to a study published online on the Journal of the American Heart Association, just swapping one or two servings of animal protein for plant-based protein (such as soya and other pulses) could lower your cholesterol levels, clear artery-clogging buildup, and bring down your risk of heart attacks and strokes. You can easily make these swaps by adding some tofu, tempeh, edamame and soya yogurt to your diet.