When we talk about legumes, we mean the edible seed of some plants, such as beans, lentils, peas, broad beans, soybeans, peanuts, and lupin beans. Among these soy is characterized by a higher content of proteins and fat, respectively of 37gr and 19gr on 100gr of product, in comparison with the other listed legumes whose contents are 19-22gr and 1-6gr.
Soy owes its reputation thanks to the following characteristics:
– High content of proteins, even if their level of sulphur amino acids is weak. In fact, for the assimilation of proteins with a high biological value, the consumption of legumes combined with grains is recommended.
– Identity of its fat. The prevalent fatty acids are the polyunsaturated fats, especially the linoleic acid (Omega 6) which give fluidity to the promoting cleanblood vessels, free from hardened fat deposits.
– Abundance of phytoestrogens (soy mainly has lignans and isoflavones), which are protective substances.
Phytoestrogens are natural substances which imitate the effects of the oestrogens.
Isoflavones naturally balance the production of hormones in the body.
They have the similar structure of estrogens in the human body and so deciding to add soy in our diet could be a way to increase the level of the estrogens.
Isoflavones have an important advantage in comparison to the chemical hormones and they show their effect only if there is a lack of estrogens.
Phytoestrogens are also called weak estrogens since, even if they are chemically comparable to the female hormones, they have a biological activity which is 1000 times lower than thehuman metabolic estrogens.
There are several clinical trials about the effects on the prevention of the cancer of the soy isoflavones. These studies claim that:
the ingestion of isoflavones, even at a low level, can prevent menopausal women from the loss of bone mass. In fact, they noticed that the people treated with isoflavones showed an elimination of calcium extremely lower than those treated with placebo.
The Phytoestrogens can fully protect men from prostate cancer and women from diseases linked to the production of estrogens such as breast cancer, endometriosis, fibrocystic mastopathy anduterine fibroid.
The regular use of the soy proteins can lower the cholesterol in the blood and the levels of triglycerides from 10 to 15 percent, mostly on subjects with high level of lipids.
The phytoestrogens can prevent the differentiation and the production of malignant cells stopping the creation of new blood vessels, which is at the base of the cancer development.
Moreover, they own an antioxidant activity which can restrict the damages created by the free radicals, one of the causes of ageing and they can give a moderate anti-hypertensive and anti-inflammatory activity.
WHO CAN NOT TAKE IN PHYTOESTROGENS
It is advisable for pregnant or breastfeeding women and for those who take antiplatelet or anticoagulant medicines not to take in products which contain phytoestrogens.
We underline that the organic soy must be GMO.
A lot of people wonder if for those who suffer of thyroid it is better not to take in soy.
Recent literary shows that it is inadvisable the overuse while it is admitted a moderate use of soy and its derivatives.
For those who want to learn more:
Adlercreutz H, Hockerstedt K, Bannwart C et al.: Association between dietary fiber, urinary exretion of lignans and isoflavonic phytoestrogens, and plasma non –protein bound sex hormones in relation to breast cancer. In: Bresciani F, King RJB, Lippman ME, Raynaud JP, eds. Progress in cancer research and therapy: hormones and cancer. New York: Raven Press; 1988; vol. 3: 409-412.
Adlercreutz H: Western diet and western diseases: some hormonal ad biochemical mechanisms and associations. Scand J Clin Lab
Invest, 1990; 50 (Suppl): 210:3-23
Anthony MS, Clarkson TB, Bullock BC, Wagner JD: Soy protein versus soy phytoestrogens in the prevention of diet-induced
coronary artery atherosclerosis of male cynomologus monkeys. ArteriosclerThrombVascBiol, 1997; 17 (11): 2524-31
- Artaud-Wild SM, Connor SL, Sexton G, Connor WE: Differences in coronary mortality can be explained by differences in cholesterol
and saturated fat intakes in 40 countries but not in France and Finland. A paradox. Circulation, 1993; 88: 2771-2779
Eden JA, Knight DC, Howes JB: A controlled trial of isoflavones for menopausal symptoms. Abrastc from the Eighth International
Congress on the Menopause. November 3-7, 1996; Sidney Australia
Fotsis T, Pepper M, Adlercreutz H, Hase T, Montesano R, Schweigger L: Genistein, a dietary ingested isoflavonoid, inhibits cell
proliferation and in vitro angiogenesis. J Nutr, 1995; 125 (Suppl): 790S-797S
- Goodman MT, Wilkens LR, Hankin JH, Lyu LC, Wu AH, Kolonel LN: Association of soy and fiber consumption with the risk of
endometrial cancer. Am J Epidemiol., 1997; 146 (4): 294-306
Soy foods, isoflavones, and the health of postmenopausal women.: Messina M1.
Hodgson JM, Puddey IB, Beilin LJ, Mori TA, Croft KD: Supplementation with isoflavonoid phytoestrogens does not alter serum lipid
concentrations: a randomized controlled trial in humans.J Nutr, 1998; 128 (4): 728-32
Hutchins AM, Lampe JW, Martini MC, Campbell DR, Slavin JL: Vegetables, fruits, and legumes: effect on urinary isoflavonoid
phytoestroven and lignan excretion. J Am Diet Assoc., 1995; 95: 769-774
Jolleys JV, Olesen F: A comparative study of prescribing of hormone replacement therapy in USA and Europe. Maturitas, 1996, 23:47-53