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Health Benefits of Soyfoods - Cancer Prevention and Buying Tips

Updated on August 22, 2011

This hub provides some information on the health benefits of soyfoods in cancer prevention, recommending some soyfoods that can be consumed daily, as well as things you should know before eating soy products.

Soybeans have long been popular in many parts of the world because of their nutritional value and versatility. In recent years, soyfoods are gaining popularity in Western countires because more and more studies have shown their potential to help reduce the risk of certain diseases, especially cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and menopause.

The health benefits of soyfoods are closely related to phytochemicals they contain. Phytochemicals are biologically active chemical compounds found in plant foods. Although phytochemicals are not considered to be nutrients, they exert great influence on our health, with physiological effects that may help to reduce the risk of chronic disease. There are hundreds of thousands of phytochemicals in the nature, among them, isoflavones are one group of plant estrogens (or phytoestrogens) that are mainly found in soybeans. Like most phytoestrogens, they possess very weak estrogenic activity and are between 1/1000 and 1/10000 as potent as the estrogens produced by the body.

Buy soyfoods high in isoflavones

Eating soyfoods is an effective way of ingesting isoflavones which are beneficial to your health. However, there are many different types of soyfoods, among them, soybeans, TVP, soymilk and tofu contain the highest isoflavones. These foods can be added to your meals without dramatically changing your dietary habits. They can be found at local grocery store or supermarket, or bought online.

In most East Asian countries, where the diet has traditionally been rich in soyfoods, there are obviously lower rates of breast cancer compared with in the Western countries. What’s more, studies have shown that one isoflavone in particular, called genistein, inhibits the growth of most types of cancer cells, including lung, prostate, and colon cancer cells and leukemia cells, which means that isoflavones can have cell growth-inhibiting effects independent of their antiestrogen activity.

Most studies have confirmed that, hormone-related cancer, such as breast cancer is closely related to the levels of estrogen in the bloodstream. High levels of estrogen will increase the risk of breast cancer because estrogen can participate in a series of reactions that increase the likelihood of the normal cell’s becoming a cancer cell. Isoflavones have double effects in the regulation of estrogen levels. isoflavones possess weak estrogenic activity and help to increase estrogen level when there is low level of estrogen in the body, however, when the level of estrogen increases, isoflavones compete with estrogen for receptors on cells and work as antiestrogens in the body.

Things you should know before consuming soyfoods

1, Studies have discovered that children who grow up drinking soymilk, have increased chances of getting thyroid and reproductive system diseases. The reason may be that children have completely different reactions to the soy phytoestrogens than the adults, so do not let babies drink soy milk.

2, Soyfoods are ideal for menopausal women and patients with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

3, Soybeans can produce excess gases and cause bloating in the process of digestion and absorption, therefore, people with chronic digestive diseases should not eat soyfoods.

4, People with severe liver disease, kidney disease, peptic ulcer should not eat soyfoods.

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