Nutrition

On World Health Day, Take a Closer Look at Reasons to add Soy Foods to Your Diet

World Health Day 2021 — sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) on April 7 each year — highlights WHO’s commitment to building a fairer, healthier world. Worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed more people into poverty and food insecurity and has exposed health inequities.

A healthy diet is essential for good health. Widely available and affordable soy foods fit in with the goals of making healthier lifestyles possible for a greater number of people. Soybeans provide excellent quality protein. In addition, compared to other beans, soybeans offer low carbohydrate content, provide beneficial unsaturated fat, and consuming soy foods may contribute to the reduced risk of several chronic diseases.

Traditional Asian soy foods have been consumed for centuries and have become quite popular in Western countries over the past several decades as increasing numbers of people adopt diets that are more plant-based. But so much has been written about soy over the past many years, it is easy to be confused about just why nutritionists recommend adding it to your diet.

Soy is a legume or, to use more common nomenclature, a bean. Beans are a vastly underutilized source of protein in many parts of the world including the United States.[1] The soybean does differ from other beans like pinto beans and black beans, however. Most beans are comprised primarily of carbohydrate; not so for soybeans, as they are low in this macronutrient.[2],[3]

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References

[1] Semba RD, Ramsing R, Rahman N, et al. Legumes as a sustainable source of protein in human diets. Global Food Security. 2021;28:100520.

[2] Messina MJ. Legumes and soybeans: overview of their nutritional profiles and health effects. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;70:439S-50S.

[3] Messina V. Nutritional and health benefits of dried beans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100 Suppl 1:437S-42S.

Mark Messina, Ph.D.
Mark Messina, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Soy Nutrition Institute

Dr. Mark Messina is a nationally recognized expert on the health effects of soy.