What are the benefits and harms of soy and soy products?


  • Origin
  • Chemical composition
  • Benefit
  • Harm
  • Soy Isoflavones
  • Germinated Soya
  • Fried soya
  • Soy products
  • How to choose and how to store

No other product causes so much debate as soy. For a long time there has been a debate about its benefits and harms to the body. Moreover, supporters consider the product extremely useful: it normalizes fat metabolism, prevents cancer of the genital organs.

Opponents of cells claim the opposite: the level of cholesterol decreases slightly, and with regular use of seeds increases the risk of developing some malignant tumors and senile dementia. Consider the effect of soy products on health.


The plant’s supposed homeland is China, mention of cultivation was found in ancient Chinese letters dating back to the 4th-3rd century BC. Subsequently, soybeans migrated to Korea, and from there to Japan.

In Europe, the plant first came in the 18th century. Americans became interested in the properties of beans and conducted their research in 1804. Since 1898, samples of varieties were imported to the United States, after which it began to be grown on an industrial scale. In Russia, they were engaged in the selection of soybean in the early 20th century, then the plant was forgotten due to the widespread cultivation of corn.

Chemical composition

In seeds, the protein content is 40%, the share of soybean oil accounts for 20%. The remaining substances are water, carbohydrates (20%) and ash. The beans are rich in pectins, cellulose, and dietary fiber, which are known body cleaners. The amount of fiber is about 4%, which is 10 times more than whole-grain bread.

Soybean oil is similar in quality to fish oil. In legumes there is lecithin, choline, vitamins A, E, many minerals – iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, silicon, etc. Among the fatty components are the most significant phospholipids, which enhance the detoxification properties of the liver, prevent damage to nerve cells and the development diabetes.

Irreplaceable linoleic acid is involved in the synthesis of prostaglandins, substances that prevent the formation of cholesterol plaques and thereby prevent atherosclerosis.


Soybean and its products (cheese, milk, meat) are an excellent substitute for red meat. Perhaps this is the only culture, whose proteins are complete in their composition. Of these, essential amino acids are synthesized in the body. Without a sufficient amount of protein in the diet, immunity is reduced, biochemical changes are altered, endocrine glands and many enzymes are disturbed. This is especially true for vegetarians who do not consume any animal products. For them, soy becomes the only source of valuable amino acids.

Daily consumption of a small amount of soybeans (25 to 40 grams) helps to reduce the level of “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides. This reduces the risk of heart and vascular diseases (stroke). However, there is a downside: 50 grams of soy is half the daily value of protein. Consequently, in the diet you need to reduce the proportion of other protein-rich foods.

Linoleic and linolenic fatty acids (belonging to the omega-3 and omega-6 classes) normalize blood pressure, stabilize the lipid composition of blood, maintain the elasticity of the vascular wall. According to the content of PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids), soybean oil is ahead of the olive oil known for its properties.

The positive effect of beans on the cardiovascular system is due to the presence of potassium and magnesium in them. Magnesium normalizes sleep, improves its quality and duration.

In men, soybeans reduce the risk of prostate cancer, but this is true only for natural, not processed foods. The experiment was conducted in the United States with the participation of 13 thousand men who drank 0.5 liters of soy milk daily. It has been proven that the likelihood of prostate cancer is reduced by 70%. This fact is explained by the presence of phytoestrogens that compete with male sex hormones.

To the note: Testosterone gives rise to the development of aggressive cancer cells in the prostate gland. By itself, the male hormone does not have a negative effect on the body, but it is a “nutrient medium” for existing tumor cells. A moderate decrease in its concentration suspends the development of a neoplasm.

About the norm of the male hormone, read the article: The  norm of testosterone in men from adolescence to old age

Soy improves calcium absorption and helps strengthen bone tissue and prevent bone fractures.

It is beneficial for overweight people to include soy products in their diet. First, the protein stimulates metabolic processes in the body. Secondly, the product contains a small amount of fat and carbohydrates, which is a valuable quality for losing weight.

Sugars contained in the fruit of the plant are used by intestinal microorganisms as nutrients. Therefore, the use of soy improves the digestive system and is the prevention of intestinal dysbiosis.


The negative effect of beans on the body due to the presence of phytates, which prevent the absorption of many minerals, including – iodine. Soy has an antithyroid effect and suppresses thyroid hormone production.

Regular inclusion in the menu of soy products can cause urolithiasis. The deposition of stones in the kidneys due to the large amount of protein, as well as oxalates, which are formed when the plant seeds feed.

When eating food supplements based on soy protein isolate may decrease libido and sperm production. This side effect should be remembered by athletes and bodybuilders.

It is interesting! Soy products are traditionally consumed in Southeast Asia, and the population is quite healthy. The secret is that the Chinese eat predominantly fermented foods that are devoid of negative qualities.

Soy Isoflavones

Soy contains special substances that resemble female sex hormones – isoflavones. These include genistein and daidzein. Scientists consider them contradictory compounds. Genistein is thought to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and prevent cardiovascular diseases. According to other data, these compounds, on the contrary, contribute to the appearance of tumors.

The effect on the male body of isoflavones is also ambiguous. They activate estrogen receptors and inhibit the work of androgen receptors. When hydrolyzed soy in the intestine, equol is formed – a substance that inhibits male hormones. There is evidence that nutrition with soy products leads to gynecomastia and slowed sexual development in boys. Other studies refute this fact.

Germinated Soya

Soy sprouts are considered a very useful product. They can be grown at home and eaten when the length of the stems reaches 3-4 cm. Usually it takes a week.

In this form, all the nutrients are better absorbed by the body. During germination, the composition of the product changes. So, starch turns into malt, proteins are broken down into amino acids, and useful acids are formed from fats.

Germinated soy is a storehouse of vitamins and minerals. It is especially useful to eat in winter and spring, when the body needs to be supplemented with vitamin supplements.

The benefits of the product are as follows:

  • Normalizes metabolism;
  • Improves sleep and fights insomnia;
  • It activates the work of brain cells;
  • Restores nerve tissue;
  • It cleanses the body of toxic substances.

Contraindications are small – this is individual intolerance.

It is not recommended to use soy sprouts in fresh form. They need to be planted in boiling water for several minutes, after heat treatment, they will not lose their beneficial qualities.

Fried soya

To prepare the dish, soak the beans for several hours, then boil for half an hour. Next, put soybeans in a saucepan with a lot of vegetable oil, fry until golden brown. It turns out a delicious product, but it is hard digested by the digestive system and contains a large number of calories.

Eat fried soy should be in moderation, it is also not recommended for dieters. To lose weight, it is better to pay attention to other, more useful products from soy.

Soy products

Tofu – bean curd, made from vegetable milk. The technology used is the same as in the production of cheese. Tofu is soft and firm, it is a non-greasy and light product. To add flavor to it add algae and spices. Tofu is consumed in its natural and fried form, cheesecakes and casseroles are made from it.

Soy sauce is obtained from the fermented seeds of the plant. The natural product is expensive and is prepared within 1-2 years. Cheap analogue consists of soy flour, dye and salt, therefore, the benefits of it are small.

Soy milk is a drink somewhat similar in taste to cow milk. Prepared from cooked seeds. Yogurts and other drinks are made from soy milk by adding sourdough, desserts and chocolate cocktails are also produced. At home they make porridges and soups.

Meat is produced from flour, which is first fried, and then form a porous mass. This is a high-protein product from which you can make goulash, meatballs and other analogues of meat dishes.

Chocolate is a lean product that is loved by the sweet tooth because of its delicate flavor. A manufacturer can put natural lecithin in a chocolate bar, which increases its nutritional quality. However, more often on the shelves there are soy bars containing lecithin substitute and other additives. Useful to call such a delicacy is quite difficult.

Soy additives are used in the manufacture of sausages to reduce the cost of production. They are made mainly from genetically modified soybeans, so they are best avoided.

How to choose and how to store

Soy seeds are sold in stores in packages of polyethylene. High-quality product is light yellow in color, all beans have a rounded smooth surface. Before cooking, it is recommended to soak them for 12 hours.

Soybean seeds well absorb moisture even from the air, and mold quickly forms on their surface. Therefore, soybean should be stored in a dry dark place, previously poured it into paper or cloth bags. Shelf life – no more than a year.

It is advisable to use natural products from soy, which are made from the seeds of a legume plant. They are on the shelves in the departments of healthy nutrition. Sausages mostly contain genetically modified soy, the benefits of such products is questionable. Beans should not be given to people with thyroid disease.