Plant - Based Food
The Agaricus blazei Murrill (ABM) is originally from Brazil. It is also known as himematsutake, Mushroom of God, and Mushroom of the Sun. It is an important part of local daily diets in Piedade, a small town in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Those who live in Piedade have uncommonly good healthand experience a lower frequency of cancer and geriatric disease than the general population in the area.
Exceptionally Rich in a Wide Variety of Polysaccharides.
Scientists think this lower frequency of disease may be attributable to the rich store of polysaccharides in the ABM mushroom. Mushroom Polysaccharides:
FV-1 (insoluble beta-glucan)
Powerful Ally in the Fight against Cancer
The ABM mushroom is rich in the polysaccharides beta-1, 3 D-glucan and beta-1,6 D-glucan. These polysaccharides can aid production of T cells, interferon, and interleukin to help prevent reproduction, spread, and relapse of cancer cells as well as virus-infected cells. Research by the National Cancer Center Laboratory and Tokyo College of Pharmacy showed the elimination of cancerous tumors in 90% of lab animals fed with ABM mushrooms while polysaccharides found in most fungi can only affect certain solid tumors, those in ABM mushrooms are reportedly effective against Ehrlich ascites carcinoma, sigmoid colon cancer,
ovarian cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, and most solid tumors.
Strengthens the Immune System
Research at King Drew Medical Center of UCLA found that the ABM mushroom increases the total number of immune cells throughout the body. Furthermore, research has shown that ABM mushroom not only increases the number of natural killer (NK) cells, but also makes each individual NK cell more powerful.
Exopolysaccharide AbEXP-la extracted from ABM mushroom displays anti- oxidation activity and can eliminate free radicals.
ABM mushroom is also cited as a powerful antiviral agent, preventing viruses and harmful agents from entering delicate tissue.
Wholesome Source of Iron
One hundred grams of ABM mushroom contain 9.65 mg of iron-one of the highest percentages of iron found in plant foods-that is easily absorbed by the human body. The ABM mushroom provides the human body with a wholesome source of iron with no side effects.
Enhances Absorption of Calcium
ABM mushroom contains ergosterol, which converts into vitamin D 2 . This vitamin promotes the absorption and use of calcium in the body. Ergosterol and vitamin D 2 combine to protect and strengthen bone health, and they even help prevent diseases like osteoporosis.
A Perfect Combination of Nutrients
The ABM mushroom is high in protein as well as vitamins B 1 , B 2 , and minerals needed by the body (such as calcium, potassium, sodium, phosphorus and iron), thus providing multiple health benefits to the body.
Cactus is an amazingly strong plant that can survive in the harsh desert. The Mexican people view it as beautiful symbol of life and hope, and they use it widely for food and medicine. Cactus is also highly regarded in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Written during the Qing Dynasty, Beng Cao Gang Mu Shi Yi (A Supplement to the Compendium of Materia Medica) recorded that cactus has a mild taste and is cold in nature, can promote the flow of qi (vital energy) and blood circulation, is cooling and detoxifying, can reduce swelling and relieve pain, strengthens the spleen and stops diarrhea, is soothing and a diuretic, and can be used both externally and internally to treat many diseases. Moreover, it is low in calories and sodium. The excellent nutritional value of cactus is recognized across different cultures around the world.
The cactus fruit has a prickly exterior. Apart from its rarity, the cactus fruit is difficult to harvest and requires a long growing period. Like the cactus, the cactus fruit needs a minimum of four years to grow and ripen before its nutrients can be tapped.
Strenuous Harvesting Process
Cactus has a long history of use as an ornamental plant and as food. Despite its prickly exterior, cactus has soft and succulent flesh and is very rich in phytochemicals and minerals.
It is very important to choose the right species and right parts of the cactus. Within the thick, waxy cuticle of the cactus stem, for example, there is a thick membrane that helps prevent water loss from the cactus. Consuming this membrane in large amounts produces a laxative effect. Once cactus gel has been isolated from the interior of the cactus, it must be filtered to remove the seeds and cellulose and then processed into liquid form. Upon removal, the gel of the cactus oxidizes rapidly. Therefore, processing must take place immediately after the gel has been extracted from the cactus to produce the purest and most delicious extract possible.
Even the harvesting hour can be critical. Research shows that it is best to harvest cactus pads earlier in the day because the acidity is the lowest at that time, which is better for health. During processing, it is best to avoid overheating cactus. Excessive heat may reduce nutrient content and degrade fiber content.
Ample knowledge and skilled technique are needed to process cactus through a series of complex steps before it can be eaten. Plus, it has to be done quickly and carefully to maintain optimal nutritional value. After removing the spines and skin, the cactus gel has to be quickly filtered to remove unwanted substances. The cactus gel has to further undergo particle filtration, microfiltration, and ultrafiltration before it is clean, pure, concentrated, and easily absorbed by the human body.
Excellent Nutritional Value
Cactus extract is rich in nutrients such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron. It is also abundant in phytochemicals, antioxidants, and polysaccharides.
Cactus has high levels of amino acids, including proline and taurine. Prior to 2000, when taurine was found to be in cactus, it had not been discovered in any other plants! Cactus also contains essential amino acids not manufactured by the human body: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, and valine. The amino acids aid in multiple chemical reactions in the body. It is rare that a plant contains as many amino acids as cactus.
Phytochemicals, Antioxidants, and Polysaccharides in Cactus
Quercetin 3-methyl ether
Potent Antioxidant and Toxicity Reducer
Research indicates that the high levels of nutrients and antioxidants in cactus and cactus fruit can help prevent DNA damage, and effectively inhibit and fight against free radical formation. For example, cactus is abundant in flavonoids, group of phytochemicals that can help protect neurons against oxidative injury. Beta-carotene contributes to the high antioxidant activity in cactus. The antioxidant activity of cactus fruit is said to be seven times more powerful than that of vitamin C!
Cactus extract reduces oxidative damage and liver and kidney toxicity that occur as a result of zearalenone, a toxin that occurs in high levels in many foodstuffs such as crops and vegetable oils. In one study, supplementing with 500 g of cactus fruit daily for two weeks improved the oxidative stress status of healthy humans.
Phytochemicals in cactus protect the plant from UV damage and ensure its survival. These same phytochemicals are also highly beneficial to the human body because they help inhibit different tumor formation processes and nourish the immune system to prevent disease. Antioxidants in cactus can inhibit the formation of free radicals and enhance phagocytic activity. Polysaccharides can boost immunity, increase NK cell activity, and inhibit tumor formation. Polysaccharides in cactus include cactus mucilage and pectic polysaccharides (e.g., rhamnogalacturonan-I).
Research shows that cactus extract can increase immune efficiency in fighting the cancer-causing Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Cactus juice can increase NK cell activity to stop one or more of the mechanisms that lead to tumor development. One group of phytochemicals, called flavonoids, is abundant in cactus and has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. They prevent cancer-causing hormones from attaching to normal cells and inhibit enzymes responsible for cancer cell metastasis.
Experimental studies showed that animals fed with cactus extract had increased immunity against tumor formation and EBV.
Cardiovascular Health Benefits
Found in cactus, proline and taurine, are of particular interest. Proline aids in collagen formation, atherosclerosis prevention, and tissue repair. Taurine helps to combat heart disease, protect against diabetes, lower high blood pressure, and decrease anxiety.
Furthermore, cactus extract helps to decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reduce low-density lipoprotein (“bad” cholesterol), prevent high blood sugar levels, stabilize diabetics’ blood sugar levels (for example, by lowering the blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients), and promote cardiovascular health.
A study conducted in a Mexican hospital showed that cactus might lower the glucose level of diabetics by as much as 19.8%. In another study, the researchers concluded that blood sugar in diabetics can be controlled by using cactus daily with a dosage of 1 mg/kg body weight.
Cactus contains beta-sitosterol, an anti- inflammatory phytochemical that aids in wound healing. Scientists tested topical application that consisted of 15% cactus extract and found that phytochemicals in cactus accelerated tissue regeneration by inhibiting inflammation, stimulating the creation of new blood vessels, and stimulating fibroblasts (cells that aid in wound healing) to move to the wound area and speed up collagen formation. Cactus mucilage (the sticky juice that oozes out when cactus is sliced) contributes to wound healing and immune system regulation by modulating the functions of macrophages (multitasking immune cells).
In experimental studies, cactus extract was able to significantly inhibit arthritic inflammation through its anti-inflammatory qualities.
Protection for the Stomach and Gastrointestinal Tract
Pectin in cactus coats the stomach and gastrointestinal tract, thereby helping to provide relief from digestive problems.
Cactus is not only regarded as one of the most perfect foods in nature, but it also plays a significant role in skin protection. Research shows that when applied to skin, cactus extract acts as moisturizer and helps prevent water evaporation from the stratum corneum layer, thereby improving the skin’ s barrier function. In addition, phytochemicals in cactus help to speed up collagen formation.
Cactus fruit is high in vitamins A, B1, B12, D3, and riboflavin. The fruit can help to promote skin repair and regeneration, soften the skin, and significantly improve the skin’s condition and appearance.
Ashitaba is well known as a longevity herb because of its strong life force-if its leaf is plucked today, a new one will sprout tomorrow. Ashita means tomorrow and ba means leaf in Japanese. Native to Japan’s Hachijo Island, ashitaba has a long history of use as food and medicine by the island’s inhabitants. The story goes that Hachijo Island was used as a place of exile for convicts during the Edo period, and despite hard labor and poor diets, the convicts lived long lives. Their unlikely longevity was attributed to the continual consumption of ashitaba for which they foraged.
A wide variety of powerful phytochemicals and antioxidants can be found in ashitaba. They have cancer-inhibiting effects and speed up the body’s removal of waste products and harmful substances. These include flavonoids, coumarin, chlorophyll, and chalcones. In fact, many of the benefits of ashitaba can be attributed to its content of chalcones (a yellow pigment).
Ashitaba also has powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties to help fight infections. In addition, ashitaba is very beneficial for maintaining cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health
Psyllium husk contains aucubine, enzymes，fats, and mucilage and is a natural source of dietary fiber. There are 71 g of soluble fiber in 100 g of psyllium husk. When eaten, psyllium husk absorbs water in amounts up to several times its weight and becomes a gelatinous mass that adds water and volume to feces. With higher water content than other fibers, psyllium husk can soften the feces and prevent constipation.
In Europe and America, psyllium husk is commonly added to high fiber breakfasts for extra fiber. Psyllium husk can promote bowel movement and lower the risk of colon cancer and intestinal diseases. It can also reduce blood cholesterol levels, control the rise of blood sugar levels, and prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Psyllium husk is a rich source of phytosterols like beta-sitosterol and stigmasterol. Studies have shown that psyllium husk can lower total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, helping to reduce heart disease risk.
The high fiber content of psyllium husk also aids weight control. In the stomach, it expands and forms a gel-like consistency when it absorbs the water one drinks. Besides taking up more space, it delays the rate at which food leaves the stomach. This makes one feel full longer, thus helping to curb appetite.
Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) has been prized and revered for centuries in the Orient. Believed to have mysterious healing powers, reishi mushroom is highly regarded by the Chinese and referred to as a “heavenly herb.” In China, reishi mushroom has been known to promote vitality and longevity.
Reishi mushroom contains carbohydrates, amino acids, protein, triterpenes, inorganic ions, alkaloids, glucosides, coumarin glycosides, riboflavin, and ascorbic acid. It is used to treat nervousness, insomnia, chronic hepatitis, high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease, flatulence, and ulcers.
Research has shown that reishi mushroom has anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Furthermore, protein isolated from reishi mushroom may reduce the risk of transplant rejection. Hence, this is encouraging for patients in need of a transplant.
Acts Against Cancer
Reishi mushroom has been widely used in cancer treatment and prevention. Research has shown that reishi mushroom can prevent the proliferation and spread of cancer cells. Japanese researchers discovered that beta- glucans isolated from reishi mushroom have excellent antitumor effects. The beta-glucans in reishi mushroom are polysaccharides and biological response modifiers (BRMs). Studies show these beta-glucans can help to prolong survival in recurrent or advanced gastric cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, and gynecological cancers. Clinical trials and in vitro experiments have shown the efficiency of beta-glucan BRMs in primary and secondary cancer prevention.
Furthermore, reishi mushroom can prevent cancer recurrence by activating macrophages, natural killer cells and other immune cells, thereby boosting immune functions and preventing cancer. In the treatment of cancer, reishi mushroom can be used to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, increase patient survival rates, decrease the risk of metastasis, improve quality of life for patients, and prevent cancer recurrence. Reishi mushroom is often used in chemotherapy and radiation therapy to alleviate side effects such as fatigue, loss of appetite, hair loss, bone marrow suppression, infection, and more.
According to Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica), reishi mushroom can help boost energy, improve thinking ability, and prevent forgetfulness. Because reishi mushroom has antioxidant properties and can help to prevent memory loss in old age, it is seen as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, a disease associated with inflammation.
Enhances the Respiratory System
Research shows that reishi mushroom has a healing effect on the lungs and is particularly effective in the treatment of asthma and other respiratory problems. A study in China showed that 60%-90% of over 2,000 patients with chronic bronchitis showed a marked improvement in health after consuming reishi mushrooms for two weeks.
Celebrated through the ages, rose mesmerizes with its elegant beauty and lovely scent, but it is not just beautiful on the outside. Rose also has a high concentration of valuable nutrients and has a long history as a beauty enhancer. It can also enhance stomach function and relieve feminine health problems.
Strengthens the Immune System
The nutrients in rose play a significant role in maintaining the normal functioning of the immune system as well as regulating and balancing it. The antioxidants in rose help to prevent free radical damage and promote wound healing. Furthermore, rose extract can increase the activity of antioxidant enzymes in the body.
Along with these benefits, rose provides essential nutrients and antioxidants, including ascorbic acid, niacin, and various vitamins. The antioxidants help to prevent DNA damage, promote wound healing, encourage phagocytic activity, and boost the immune system. Moreover, rose has antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Enhances Collagen Production
Rose contains antioxidant compounds such as vitamin C, flavonoids, gallic acid derivatives, and polysaccharides. They greatly enhance the body’s ability to produce collagen, improve skin texture and appearance, and maintain skin firmness and elasticity.
Slows Down Signs of Aging
Research shows that rose extract can inhibit the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs)-proteins linked to the progression of aging, age-related diseases, and skin wrinkling.
Protects, Repairs, and Revitalizes
Antioxidants in rose help to protect the body from harmful UV rays. Rose helps to lighten pigmentation for a smoother, fairer complexion. At the same time, it has cleansing, purifying, and softening properties on skin.
Improves Blood Circulation
Rose has been used over the centuries to improve blood circulation.
Soybeans have been part of the human diet for around 5,000 years. Not only is soy cholesterol free, but it also has all the nutrients essential for good health: protein, essential amino acids, carbohydrates, and vitamins. It is high in fiber, low in saturated fat, and rich in minerals like calcium, iron, and phosphorus. It is also packed with disease-fighting nutrients like phytochemicals, antioxidants, and polysaccharides. Soy has been called the “yellow jewel” since ancient times due to its unique characteristics.
One of the Most Abundant Sources of Plant Protein
Soy is rich in protein, unlike many plant foods. Made up of 36%-56% protein, soy is one of the most abundant plant sources of dietary protein. Like animal protein, soy protein is complete in that it provides all the essential amino acids needed for human health.
Studies indicate that excess undigested protein may cause allergies. In addition, diets high in animal protein cause excretion of calcium through urine and heighten the risk of osteoporosis. Therefore, soy protein is an ideal source of protein in one’s daily diet.
Soy protein has a complete range of amino acids, especially lysine, which is lacking in most grains. Hence, soy is an ideal choice of protein for health-conscious people, vegetarians, and those managing their weight with low-calorie diets.
Excellent Source of Phytoestrogens
Soy contains natural phytoestrogens, mainly isoflavones and lignans. Their estrogenic effects are obvious when these natural phytoestrogens are concentrated together. Isoflavones are very important to good health. To date, soy is the most important and best-known source of isoflavones.
Some people believe that the phytoestrogen found in soy may cause hormone-related cancers, such as breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and prostate cancer. In actuality, phytoestrogens help to prevent cancer.
Soy isoflavones exert both estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects. One theory is that phytoestrogens may act as anti-estrogens in premenopausal women who tend to have higher hormone levels. Phytoestrogens may block some effects of estrogen and thus protect against hormone- related cancers.
Phytoestrogens fill estrogen receptor sites on cells, keeping cancer- causing estrogen from promoting the growth of malignant cells. Therefore, phytoestrogens from plant foods may lower the risk of estrogen-dependent cancers, such as breast cancer.
According to a study by the National University of Singapore, the University of Southern California, and the University of Minnesota, Singapore Chinese women who regularly consumed soy products such as soy milk had a significant 18% reduction in breast cancer risk. This study tracked about 35,000 Chinese women over 10 years and was published in the British Journal of Cancer in 2008.
In another study, published in the International Journal of Cancer in October 2008, Japanese researchers found that high levels of soy food consumption appeared to specifically reduce the risk of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive tumors and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative tumors.
Easily Absorbed Source of Calcium and Iron
Iron and calcium are minerals the body needs to keep bones healthy and to produce hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin plays a key role in transporting oxygen in the body Soy, like all legumes, is a good source of calcium and iron. Just 100 g of boiled soybeans contain 145 mg of calcium and 2.5 mg of iron that are easily absorbed by the body. In addition, soy contains ferritin, a protein that stores iron and releases it in a controlled fashion. U.S. researchers studied 18 women, most of whom had marginal iron deficiency. They were given soybean soup and muffins made with soy flour. After 28 days, the researchers found there was a 27% increase of iron absorption in the women’s red blood cells.
Moreover, soy contains fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which can increase the amounts of good bacteria in the intestines. Research has also shown that FOS can increase the multiplication of Bifidobacterium bifidum (B. bifidum), which helps promote the absorption of calcium and magnesium and further reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
In a study published in Tumori, rats were given the carcinogens dibutylamine and sodium nitrite, which resulted in depressed cellular and humoral immunity. Soybean was then administered. Results indicated an absence of tumor growth, demonstrating that soybean has the ability to increase immune function by enhancing both cellular and humoral immunity.
Strong Anticancer Effects
Phytates (the salts of phytic acid) in soy have been associated with reduced colon cancer risk. Research shows that soy saponins help to inhibit cancer cell growth. Furthermore, the main isoflavones in soy-genistein, daidzein, and glycitein – have anticancer effects. Isoflavones also work as antioxidants, destroying free radicals before they cause cells to mutate into cancer.
Genistein has shown promise in preventing and treating prostate and breast cancers. Research shows that genistein can effectively inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells. As such, the U.S. National Cancer Institute is studying the possibility of using genistein as an anticancer drug.
A large study spanning 10 years suggests that women with high blood levels of genistein seem to have lower risk of developing breast cancer. Among more than 24,000 middle-aged and older Japanese women, those with the highest blood levels of genistein were about 65% less likely to develop breast cancer compared to those with the lowest blood levels of genistein. This study is unique because the researchers measured blood levels of genistein instead of asking what the women ate. The researchers theorize that genistein may lower breast cancer risk by sitting in the estrogen receptors on breast cells and blocking the cancer-promoting effects of estrogen made by the body.
Daidzein may prevent hormone-sensitive cancers like breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and prostate cancer. It could be especially useful when used in tandem with other preventives and treatments. For instance, tamoxifen is an effective chemopreventive agent against ER-positive breast cancer. However, long-term use of tamoxifen may significantly increase the risk of endometrial cancer, which begins in the uterus. An experimental model by the University of Cyprus suggests that daidzein may lower the increased risk of endometrial cancer produced by tamoxifen.
Glycitein accounts for 5%-10% of the isoflavones in soy foods. Studies found it to have weak estrogenic activity. It may also have antioxidant activities and help prevent cancer, osteoporosis, and the formation of plaque inside the arteries.
Cardiovascular Disease Prevention
soy contains no cholesterol. Soy isoflavones have weak estrogenic effects that help lower low-density lipoprotein (“bad”) cholesterol and increase high-density lipoprotein (” good” cholesterol, thereby promoting heart health. Soy saponins help lower cholesterol by increasing bile excretion.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded that 25 of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may help to lower blood cholesterol levels, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease.
Research shows that an unhealthy diet high in sodium and low in potassium may lead to high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, both of which are main risk factors of stroke. Soy is rich in potassium, which helps the body to get rid of excess sodium, thus lowering the risk of stroke. Other research indicates that unsaturated fatty acids found in soybeans may help to lower cholesterol levels, prevent atherosclerosis, and decrease the accumulation of fats on arterial walls, thus helping to reduce the risk of stroke.
The high amounts of phytosterols in soy have the ability to lower cholesterol. Sitosterol makes up the largest proportion of phytosterols in soy (60%), followed by campesterol (20%) and stigmasterol (20%). Sitosterol has been used to treat hypercholesterolemia (very high levels of cholesterol in the blood). In addition, clinical studies have shown that phytosterol intake can reduce total cholesterol by 10% and LDL cholesterol by 15%.
Phytosterols can lower the body’s absorption of cholesterol. Research shows that consuming 1.5-1.8 g of phytosterols a day can reduce cholesterol absorption by 30%-40%, while an intake of 2.2 of phytosterols per day can reduce cholesterol absorption by 60%, thereby lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The glycemic index of soybean is 10-23 which is very low. It will cause only small fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels, helping to keep the blood sugar levels more stable. The glycemic index indicates the ability of carbohydrate-containing foods to raise blood glucose levels within two hours, on a scale of 0-100.
Diabetics are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people without diabetes The American Diabetes Association recommends soy protein for diabetics. Research conducted in the UK showed how soy protein and soy isoflavones can aid in controlling blood sugar, helping postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes become more sensitive to insulin, and reducing the risk of diabetes-related complications, such as heart disease and kidney damage.
In addition, soy is a good source of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber may help improve blood sugar control because it slows down the rate at which the body absorbs sugar.
Kidney Disease Prevention
Soy protein will not overburden the kidneys, hence reducing the risk of kidney damage. Studies have shown that soy protein is significantly better at aiding kidney function than animal protein.
Those with kidney disease must restrict their phosphorus intake. A result of damaged kidneys is hyperphosphatemia, or high level of phosphate in the blood. This interferes with calcium balance in the body. Although soybeans contain large amounts of phosphorus, it is in the form of phytate, which is poorly absorbed.
Middle-aged and elderly women are at higher risk of osteoporosis due to declining estrogen levels. One main condition experienced by menopausal women in the U.S. is hip fracture caused by osteoporosis. The rate of hip fractures caused by osteoporosis in menopausal American women is nearly double that of Japanese women. Research has shown that this may be due to the latter’s regular consumption of soy foods.
Scientists discovered that soy isoflavones can help increase the absorption of calcium in the intestines, promote bone renewal in the lumbar spine, and minimize bone loss while enhancing bone cell growth. This, in turn, enhances the body’s calcium absorption and increases bone density, helping to prevent osteoporosis and maintain bone health.
People seeking to manage their weight will usually follow a low-calorie diet. Adequate protein intake is very important when on a low- calorie diet because it helps prevent muscle loss. Muscle burns more calories than fat does. The more muscle a person has in relation to fat, the higher his or her metabolic rate will be. When on a low-calorie diet, not eating enough to build or maintain muscles will result in less muscle available to continue to burn calories. High in plant protein, soy is undoubtedly the ideal source of protein for people managing their weight.
Polypeptides and other compounds of soy also help weight loss in other ways. Scientists think that an active polypeptide in soy helps speed up the fat decomposition process. Experimental studies have shown that soy may aid weight loss by boosting metabolism. At the same time, soy peptides may interact with receptors in the brain to signal a feeling of satiety while delaying emptying of the stomach.
Moreover, the dietary fiber in soybeans allows one to feel full longer, which reduces the intake of other foods Soy is also low in calories and fat.
Isoflavones and other phytoestrogens in soy can mimic the effects of the female hormone estrogen and help to prevent the body’s estrogen level from being too high or low, keeping it at a normal level.
Because of this effect, soy helps to improve complexion, alleviate menstrual discomfort, delay the onset of menopause and visible signs of aging, and may prevent diseases caused by hormonal imbalances, like breast, endometrial, and prostate cancers. For postmenopausal women, phytoestrogen in soy act like estrogens, thus relieving symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and increases in body temperature.
Brain Activity Enhancement
Phospholipids are crucial to brain health. Soy is rich in phospholipids, specifically lecithin, hence a diet high in soy contributes to better learning capabilities and helps to improve memory and vitality.
Blood Clot Prevention
Research has found that the soyasaponin in soy helps control blood platelets from lessening and thrombin, a key clot promoter, from forming, effectively preventing blood clots.
Research shows that soybean paste contains linoleic acid, which helps suppress the formation of excess melanin, which is the main cause of pigmentation. At the same time, it helps promote softer, smoother, and fairer skin.
Did You Know? Soy Myths
Recently, there were concerns that soy might burden health because it contains phytic acid and purine. These are unfounded, as many studies have proven that soy consumption is safe and beneficial to health.
Soy and phytic acid
Soy contains moderate amounts of phytic acid, a natural organic acid present in the hulls of grains and seeds. Its unique structure enables it to bind easily to elements like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and, in particular, zinc in the gastrointestinal tract. Hence, some people think that long-term consumption of soy products will cause a deficiency of trace elements in the human body and suggest that those with zinc deficiency avoid soy products such as soy milk.
In actuality, soy is rich in iron and calcium that are easily absorbed by the human body. It is also rich in FOS, which can promote absorption of calcium and magnesium, thereby making up for the metallic elements bound to phytic acid. In addition, fermented soy (such as preserved bean curd, preserved soybeans, and natto) can also alleviate the phytic acid problem. During fermentation, microorganisms break down the phytic acid in soy so that minerals present in soy like calcium, iron, and zinc can be more easily absorbed by the human body.
Hence, phytic acid in soy will not have a major effect on mineral absorption when individuals consume moderate suitable amounts of soy products as part of a balanced diet. In fact, phytic acid benefits health with its anticancer effects. To reduce the amount of phytic acid, soak soybeans before removing their skin.
Soy and purine
Gout commonly affects men over 40 years old and menopausal women. It is a disorder of purine metabolism. Purine is an organic compound that occurs naturally in the human body. It is the main component of DNA and RNA and is essential for providing energy, regulating metabolism, and forming coenzymes.
Aging body cells or excessive consumption of purine-rich foods such as organ meats and seafood can lead to excessive amounts of purine in the body. Uric acid is produced when the body breaks down purines. If the body cannot remove excess uric acid in time or the uric acid excretion mechanism degenerates, there will be high levels of uric acid in the blood. This can cause painful uric acid crystals to form in joints, tissues, and kidneys, causing the immune system to mount an attack against these crystals because they do not belong there. This immune reaction causes inflammation and induces gout.
A myth is circulating that gout patients should avoid soybeans and soy products, especially soy milk, because they are rich in purine, which is highly hydrophilic and increases greatly after soybeans are ground into soy milk. That is not true. The amount of purine in soy is moderate; it is lower than purine-rich foods (e.g., organ meats) but higher than foods low in purine (e.g., fruits and vegetables).
Most purines are removed along with excess water during the manufacturing process of many soy products. Five hundred grams of soybeans can produce 2,500 ml of soy milk. Hence the amounts of purines in 500 ml of soy milk is insignificant. A study by Japanese researchers concluded that tofu is a safe source of protein for gout patients due to its small and transient effect on plasma urate levels. A 12-year study involving more than 45,000 men found that higher levels of meat and seafood consumption are associated with an increased risk of gout, whereas moderate intake of purine–rich vegetables is not associated with an increased risk of gout.
In addition, estrogens help inhibit the formation of uric acid. Soy isoflavones can restore balance to men experiencing irregularities in uric acid elimination due to interference from male hormones and replenish estrogens in menopausal women, thereby reducing gout incidence. Compared to fish, meat, seafood, and freshwater delicacies, soy and soy products are relatively safer and more ideal sources of protein.