Millions of health-conscience Americans rely on soyfoods every day as their go-to source of protein. Soyfoods play an important role for consumers who strive for healthier living by changing their eating habits from a meat-heavy diet to meals that incorporate plant-based substitutes. Studies over the past two decades have shown that such a change reduces blood cholesterol levels. Studies have examined soybeans’ effect on relieving menopausal symptoms, maintaining healthy bones, and preventing cancer. The most significant contribution soyfoods have to offer the human body, however, is its effects on heart health.
In the age of Internet trolls and fake news, it can be difficult to discern what is fact and what is fiction. Myths about soy can sometimes take a life of their own. So what are the facts?
Soy is Good for the Heart
It is an open secret that soyfoods are rich in protein, offering a viable alternative to animal protein. More than 9 million American vegetarians recognize that soy protein offers similar benefits without the health risks that come along with the typical steak dinner. Soyfoods contain low amounts of saturated fat by comparison, which helps to bolster heart health by reducing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. A healthy diet that includes soyfoods is proven to lower triglycerides and alleviate high blood pressure. What’s more, the American Heart Association advocated increased consumption of soyfoods for its high levels of fiber and vitamins, and its low levels of saturated fat. Replacing three ounces of beef steak with three ounces of tofu, for example, saves the consumer from ingesting six grams of saturated fat and 25 milligrams of cholesterol.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing about 630,000 Americans annually — nearly a quarter of deaths nationwide. A balanced soy-inclusive diet with regular exercise can reduce the risk of congenital heart disease. This has been put into practice in certain societies and the results speak for themselves. According to the AHA, “Asian populations who consume soy foods as a dietary staple have a lower incidence of CVD than those who consume a typical Western diet.” Twenty-five grams of soy protein a day may just keep the doctor away.
The Influence of International Foods
Exotic foods have seen an uptick in popularity in the United States. The millennial generation in particular is driving interest in traditional Asian and Latin American staples that often include more soyfoods than the typical American meal. Soybeans are of particular importance to Japanese cuisine and can be found in just about everything from miso soup to yuba (not to mention the omnipresent edamame). Yuba, better known in English as “tofu skin,” is derived from soymilk and makes for an excellent protein-filled side dish.
What to Eat
Looking for meal ideas? Try replacing those fatty red meats with soy-based alternatives. Swap out the ground beef for some meatless meatballs on your next Italian dinner, or try soy-based cheese substitutes over its dairy cousin.
The Bottom Line
Soyfoods consist of heart-healthy proteins that provide essential vitamins and minerals. A soyfoods diet can help reduce LDL cholesterol and improve blood elasticity. So, take that second helping of tofu and splurge on an extra glass of soymilk. Your heart will thank you for it.