The Mighty Soybean
Soy isoflavones are responsible for most of soy’s health benefits. Studies have shown isoflavones are true multi-taskers, tackling everything from promoting heart health, alleviating hot flashes associated with menopause, increasing bone density, and lowering the risk of prostate, colon and breast cancers. In addition, protein-rich soy foods may help you lose weight and fat when substituted for other sources of protein.
■ Soy foods are safe for a developing fetus.
■ Women who eat soy foods have a lower risk of developing breast cancer.
■ Soy foods protect against thyroid cancer and have no effect on thyroid function in healthy people.
Soy and Women’s Health
An important recent study found that soy food consumption did not increase the risk of cancer recurrence or death among survivors of breast cancer. Women in the highest intake category of soy foods had a 9 percent reduced risk of mortality and a 15 percent reduced risk of recurrence compared to those who had the lowest intake level. Researchers used data from a multi-institution collaborative study called the After Breast Cancer Pooling Project. Breast cancer outcomes were assessed, on average, nine years after cancer diagnosis.
Soy and Men’s Health
Researchers at Northwestern University have found that a new, nontoxic drug made from soy’s isoflavone genistein could prevent cancer cells in the prostate from spreading to the rest of the body. So far, the cancer therapy drug has worked in preclinical animal studies and now shows benefits in humans with prostate cancer.
Soy’s Benefits to Heart Health
Researchers have found that soy-based diets reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. In 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a health claim about soy protein and heart disease based on soy’s cholesterol-lowering effects. The claim states that “25 grams of soy protein per day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.”
In addition, soy isoflavones reduce heart disease risk by inhibiting the growth of cells that form artery-clogging plaque. This plaque can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Soy also improves the flexibility of blood vessels, while another study shows a diet rich in isoflavones may improve the function of arteries in stroke patients.
Soy Remains at the Heart of Good Nutrition
Recently, soy foods were highlighted in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS)’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations. These guidelines include recommendations to increase the intake of soy products and fortified soy beverages. Others are finally catching on to what we’ve known for years about soy benefits. And research continues to show the many ways soy supports good health. So, cheers to your two Reliv shakes a day — you’re an official trendsetter!
Thank you, Dr. Carl, for another great article and the truth about soy!