In a study that was just reported this week, soy was associated with lowered systolic blood pressure. An interesting finding, and one that backs up what a lot of people already believe: that soy products are a health boon. Of course soy foods and tofu are excellent sources of protein, which is a key part of a healthy diet and a great way to feel full, improve energy, and maintain (or lose) weight. Soy has been a major staple in Asian diets for thousands of years. And yes, those are the populations that consistently outstrip North Americans in health and longevity.
So this recent study prompted me to review the evidence surrounding soy, and see what other benefits have been proven so far. Here’s what I found:
Cholesterol. Studies have shown soy to decrease total cholesterol, and LDL (bad cholesterol) in particular.
Diabetes. A huge study of over 64,000 women showed that consumption of legumes, soybeans in particular, was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Cancer. A meta-analysis was done in 2010, and found that soy was associated with a reduction in colorectal cancer risk in women.
Heart disease. Research showed that the intake of soy nuts in women with hypertension improved the inflammatory process that plays a role in atherosclerosis (coronary artery disease).
There’s more, but these were some of the key findings I unearthed. It must be said, though, that most of the health improvements attributed to soy intake were modest. Translation? Soy is good, but it’s not a magic bullet.
At any rate, it looks like including more soy in your diet is a good idea. And something I’m going to try to boost.
Now…I just need to find a soy product I actually like.
Soy milk? I’ve tried this one, straight and in my coffee…and, well, yuck. Not for me.
Tofu? I’ve also tried this one repeatedly (especially when I was a vegetarian for two years) and it always took various mind-tricks to get beyond the texture.
But on the other hand: Edamame? Yes. This I love. I could wolf down an entire bowlful of edamame.
And soy nuts are pretty good too, sprinkled on a salad. Yum.
My question: what’s your favorite soy recipe? Do you have a good way of including soy in your diet?