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People allergic to dairy products and even vegans substitute animal proteins with soy proteins. Soy proteins are considered to be a healthier alternative for meat. A variety of soy products like, tofu, soy milk, tempeh which are rich in soy proteins are made with soybeans. Soy proteins are also consumed by people in the form of protein powder.
Consuming too much soy foods has been linked to various drawbacks and due to the same reason soy proteins are considered to be a controversial food. Hence, whenever you include soy foods in your diet make sure you have it in moderate quantities and do consult your dietitian about how many portions of soy protein should be consumed for your health.
Soy Protein Benefits
Aids in building muscles
Soy protein provides you with many amino acids which our body requires. Soy proteins contain branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) which comprise 3 amino acids - leucine, isoleucine and valine. Various researches have revealed that though BCAA aids in building muscles, soy proteins are not as effective as other sources of proteins like whey protein, but consuming dairy products along with soy proteins was found to be more effective.
Helps in weight loss
As per studies, diets that are high in proteins aid in weight loss but when it comes to soy proteins the result seems to be mixed. As per some studies, soy proteins trigger weight loss as effectively as animal-based products. A study was conducted in which 20 obese male participants were given soy-based high-protein diet as well as meat-based high-protein diet. This research led to the finding that the soy-based high protein diet was as effective as the meat-based protein-rich diet in aiding weight loss.
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Promotes heart health
Soy protein is found to be good for heart health; various studies have revealed that soy helps in lowering the levels of bad cholesterol and increasing the levels of good cholesterol. A study revealed that replacing animal protein with around 25 g of soy protein resulted in the decrease of total bad cholesterol level as well as levels of triglyceride, which is a type of fat found in our blood.
Might lower cancer risk
Soy foods contain isoflavones, which is similar to the oestrogen hormone and this makes people think that it could trigger various types of hormonally-sensitive cancers. But the American Cancer Society stated that though soy foods contain oestrogen-like isoflavones, they have anti-oestrogen properties.
Some studies reveal that people consuming soy foods are less prone to breast cancer and the fibre content present in soy could help combat various types of cancers. The studies regarding soy foods and cancer have mixed results.
Side Effects Of Soy Protein
Affect the body's mineral absorbing ability
Soy proteins contain antioxidant compounds called phytates. They are called antinutrients since they reduce our body's ability to absorb minerals which can affect your body adversely in the long run.
May impact thyroid function
The thyroid gland plays the role of converting iodine present in the food to into thyroid hormones called thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The isoflavones present in soy foods act as goitrogens which disrupt the functioning of the thyroid gland and affect the production of the T4 and T3 hormones.
Might disrupt body's hormonal balance
Soy contains phytoestrogen - chemical compounds which are present in plants, which have properties similar to that of oestrogen. Many people believe that the phytoestrogen present in soy foods has the ability to disturb the hormonal balance of the body.
Soy proteins have benefits and drawbacks. What one needs to understand is that the effect of soy protein is different on different people. A thorough understanding of the benefits and drawbacks is required before you decide to consume soy proteins in large amounts. On the whole, soy proteins are considered safe for consumption in moderation and a good source of protein if you are a vegetarian or vegan.