The benefits of soybeans lie in their nutritional profile. They are a rich source of vitamins E and B, calcium, iron, fiber, zinc, unsaturated fatty acids, and isoflavones. Soybeans have been a staple in traditional Asian diets for many centuries, thanks to their wide range of nutrients (1).
According to studies, soybeans are also said to improve skin health. Moreover, both non-fermented and fermented soybeans have excellent nutritional properties that are vital for optimal health.
In this article, we discuss all you need to know about soybeans and their benefits. Read on!
In This Article
Nutrition Details Of Soybeans
One cup of soybeans (186 grams) contains 830 calories and 56 grams of carbohydrates. Following are the other major nutrients present:
- 67 grams of protein
- 37 grams of fat
- 17 grams of fiber
- 515 milligrams of calcium
- 29 milligrams of iron
- 521 milligrams of magnesium
- 3 grams of phosphorus
- 3 grams of potassium
- 698 micrograms of folate
- 41 IU of vitamin A
*Values sourced from USDA, Soybeans, mature seeds, raw
That was the nutrient composition of mature and raw soybean seeds. Another variant of soybeans is the roasted seeds.
Roasted soybean seeds are crunchy and delicious. They provide comparable energy, carbs, protein, and fiber. Most of the soybean micronutrients are retained despite roasting.
Coming to the phytochemical composition, soybeans contain active molecules like tocopherols, phospholipids, sphingolipids, carotenoids, lunasin, isoflavones, saponins, and phytates (2).
Phytic acid or phytates fall under the category of anti-nutrients. Phytic acid chelates or binds to ions like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Most of these minerals are bound to proteins in your body cells. Under changing pH conditions, phytic acid binds to the mineral ions and proteins, making them both less bioavailable (2).
However, when you ingest soy, its phytic acid/phytates react with the enzymes of your gut. Thus, it loses a part of its trapping or chelating power (2).
Scroll down to find out how soybeans can benefit your health.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Soybeans?
1. May Protect Your Skin
They contain bioactive ingredients like tannins, isoflavonoids, trypsin inhibitors, and proanthocyanidins. Extracts rich in these components are reportedly beneficial in cosmetology and dermatology (3).
Soybean trypsin inhibitors (a particular protein in soybeans) were found to have depigmentation properties. In studies, they could reduce pigment deposition. The anthocyanins in soybeans also inhibit the production of melanin (4).
In rat studies, soybean extracts reduced wrinkles and inflammation caused by UV rays. They also boost collagen and improved skin elasticity (4).
Daidzein, one of the soy isoflavones, prevented the cellular mechanisms that lead to atopic dermatitis in these rats (4).
Multiple studies strongly back the anticancer properties of soybeans. Oral and topical administration of genistein demonstrated substantial inhibition of UV-induced skin cancer and aging in mice models. However, the underlying mechanisms of how soybeans function in this regard need further understanding (4).
2. May Control Weight Gain And Cholesterol Levels
In a rat study, obese/fatty rats were fed soy protein or casein isolates with other components for three weeks. It was observed that soy protein-fed rats had lower body weight than those that were on casein. Their plasma and liver triglyceride levels were also reported to be low (5).
Metadata with human studies clearly show the positive effect of soybean supplementation on body weight. Isoflavones are thought to be the active components behind this effect.
Eating soybeans may control body weight in both obese individuals and those with normal body weight (with BMI <30) (6).
3. May Reduce The Risk Of Hormone-Dependent Cancer
Soy isoflavones have been studied for their anticancer effects. In a Japanese study, these were found to reduce the risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women (7).
Soybeans are rich in the precursors of the isoflavones daidzein and genistein that are thought to have antiestrogenic effects, thereby reducing breast cancer risk. They downregulate the enzymes involved in estrogen biosynthesis (7).
Soybean ingredients compete with estrogen to exert an anti-estrogenic effect. Both fermented and non-fermented soybean products have this anticancer property.
Protective effects of soy have been reported in both hormone- and non-hormone-related cancers as well. However, there is no definitive statement at the moment, and more research is needed to establish soy reduces cancer risk (8).
4. May Help Manage Diabetes
Supplementing the diet with soybeans can help improve blood glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes.
The complex carbohydrates, protein, dietary fiber, and minerals may contribute to this effect. Their phytoestrogens and soy peptides may also help in this regard. They lower the glycemic value of these legumes and benefit individuals with diabetes (9), (10).
The phytochemicals in soybeans are strong antioxidants. Consuming them can protect individuals with diabetes from oxidative damage, which can worsen diabetes. These beans may also help treat conditions like impaired glucose tolerance, hyperlipidemia, and insulin resistance (9).
Interestingly, fermented soybean products (like natto, tempeh, doenjang, and kochujang) fare better as antidiabetic agents. This is probably because fermentation is thought to alter the chemical structures of isoflavonoids and other active biomolecules (11).
There are not many human trials backing this, but literary evidence proves the efficacy of fermented products over non-fermented ones (11).
5. May Strengthen Your Hair
Some research suggests that drinks made of soybeans may help in the treatment of baldness.
The soybean drinks are rich in isoflavones. Several reports state that isoflavones can be protective against baldness (12).
6. May Promote Heart Health
Soybeans are also associated with cardiovascular benefits, thanks to their isoflavones.
Soybean isoflavones lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in your blood so that it does not get acted upon by free radicals to form atherosclerotic plaques. If formed, these plaques lead to inflammation of blood vessels, thus triggering atherosclerosis (13).
Animal and human studies state that the presence of soy in the diet can improve cardiovascular health. Soybeans can help fight inflammation, which is among the primary causes of heart disease (14).
This is supported by an increase in sodium excretion via urine. These phytoestrogens act on estrogen receptors and inhibit the key enzyme system that causes hypertension (15).
7. May Prevent Bone Diseases In Women
Menopause marks the end of the menstrual cycle. It is also characterized by a drop in estrogen levels. Apart from regulating periods, estrogen is vital in preserving and protecting the bones. Hence, a large section of postmenopausal women face bone loss or are at high risk for bone diseases (16).
There is some research that soy milk could be inversely associated with osteoporosis in postmenopausal women (17).
8. May Treat Sleep Disorders And Depression
In a Japanese study, higher intake of isoflavones was linked to better sleep duration and quality. Soybeans, being rich sources of isoflavones, could be beneficial in this regard (18).
Estrogen is one of the hormones that act on your brain and are involved in sleep regulation. Many hormone replacement therapy studies prove the ability of estrogen to alleviate insomnia, restlessness, and depression (18).
In 2015, a survey was conducted in rural Northeast China on 1717 participants above 65 years of age. According to the survey, individuals who rarely consume soybeans or soybean products could be more likely to have depressive symptoms (19).
Research has also found a correlation between soybean isoflavone supplementation and possible improvement in depression. However, the data is limited, and we need more studies to confirm these findings (20).
With soybeans, moderation is key. Excess intake may lead to certain adverse effects. In the following section, we will look at the ideal dosage of soybeans.
What Is The Daily Recommended Intake Of Soybeans?
The FDA issued a final dietary regulation in 1999. According to it, a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol with 25-30 g of soy protein a day can reduce the risk of CVDs. The FDA also proposed that soy food should contain about 6.25 g of soy protein per serving (21).
One cup (172 g) of cooked, unsalted soybeans contains about 30 g of protein. Therefore, eating one or half a cup of soybeans a day should be safe.
What Are The Side Effects Of Soybeans And How To Prevent Them?
Anecdotal evidence suggests that excess soybean intake may lead to constipation, nausea, and bloating. However, research is limited to support this.
Sticking to the ideal dosage may help prevent these effects.
Also, if there is already too much protein and phytosteroids on your plate, eating soybeans daily might not give expected results.
Hence, consult a dietitian/nutritionist. Discuss the pros and cons of this legume and understand if it suits your body. Only then can a portion size be fixed for you.
Soybeans are safe to eat within limits. They taste excellent when cooked the right way. What better way to consume soy nutrients than by cooking with it?
How To Cook With Soybeans: Quick-n-Healthy Soybean Recipe
Quinoa And Soybean Clean Salad
What You Need
- Dry red quinoa: 2 cups
- Water: to cook (4-5 cups)
- Soybeans: 1 cup
- Juicy apple: 1 large
- Orange: 1
- Broccoli: 1 cup, small florets
- Tomato: 1/4 cup, chopped
- Dill: 2 tablespoons, finely chopped
- Salt: to taste
Let’s Make It!
- Boil four cups of water and add two cups of quinoa to it.
- Cook until the quinoa is done (15-20 minutes after the water boils).
- Set aside and let it cool down.
- Chop the apple into small chunks.
- Toss in the broccoli florets and chopped tomato. (You can also add feta or cottage cheese to this salad.)
- Zest the orange over the cooked and cool quinoa.
- Add the soybeans and chopped dill leaves
- Mix the contents. Sprinkle some salt to taste.
- Let the salad marinate for 5-10 minutes before serving.
- Serve it cold with some crunchy nachos or tortilla chips.
If you are not a fan of salads, you can make soybean cutlets, chops, chips, hummus, curries, pancakes, or soups. They have been used across the globe in different preparations. These beans are known for their versatility.
A variety of prepared (pre-made) or half-cooked soybean products are available on the market as well. They are all economical and tasty.
The best bet would be to have fermented soybean foods. Edamame, bean sprouts, soymilk, tofu, natto, tempeh, okara, and miso are incredibly healthy.
With good amounts of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fatty acids, soybeans benefit your skin, hair, and overall health in several ways. The only vegetarian source of all essential amino acids, soybeans are a healthy addition to your diet routine. These nutrient-dense beans not only help improve your cardiovascular, bone, and mental health, but also help regulate the blood sugar and cholesterol level. With its phytochemicals and active ingredients, soybeans help nourish and protect your hair and skin as well. Soy milk, tofu, edamame, fermented beans, or natto are some of the healthiest ways to add soybeans to your health and diet routine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can we eat soybean daily?
Yes. Moderate consumption of soybeans every day can help boost your health in many ways.
Do soybeans make your breasts grow?
No. There is no scientific evidence supporting the claim that soybeans have a mastogenic effect.
Is soybean bad for males?
- Soy, Soy Foods and Their Role in Vegetarian Diets, Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Minor Constituents and Phytochemicals of Soybeans, Food Science and Human Nutrition Publications, Iowa State University.
- Dermatological and cosmeceutical benefits of Glycine max (soybean) and its active components, Acta poloniae pharmaceutica, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Review of Soybean Phytochemicals and Their Bioactive Properties Relevant for Skin Health, Journal of Food and Nutrition Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Role of Dietary Soy Protein in Obesity, International Journal of Medical Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Soy isoflavone supplementation could reduce body weight and improve glucose metabolism in non-Asian postmenopausal women–a meta-analysis, Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Soybean products and reduction of breast cancer risk: a case–control study in Japan, British Journal of Cancer, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Soy intake and cancer risk: a review of the in vitro and in vivo data, Nutrition and Cancer, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Effects of soybean supplementation on blood glucose, plasma lipid levels, and erythrocyte antioxidant enzyme activity in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients, Nutrition Research and Practice, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Antidiabetic effects of fermented soybean products on type 2 diabetes, Nutrition Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Antidiabetic effects of fermented soybean products on type 2 diabetes, Nutrition Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Androgenic Alopecia Is Associated with Less Dietary Soy, Higher Blood Vanadium and rs1160312 1 Polymorphism in Taiwanese Communities, PloS One, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Soy may help protect against cardiovascular disease, University of California.
- Soy protein supports cardiovascular health by downregulating hydroxymethylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase and sterol regulatory element-binding protein-2 and increasing antioxidant enzyme activity in rats with dextran sodium sulfate-induced mild systemic inflammation, Nutrition Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Beyond the Cholesterol-Lowering Effect of Soy Protein: A Review of the Effects of Dietary Soy and Its Constituents on Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease, Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Soy foods: are they useful for optimal bone health?, Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Soy milk and dairy consumption is independently associated with ultrasound attenuation of the heel bone among postmenopausal women: the Adventist Health Study–2, Nutrition Research, ScienceDirect.
- Relationship between daily isoflavone intake and sleep in Japanese adults: a cross-sectional study, Nutrition Journal, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Soybeans or Soybean Products Consumption and Depressive Symptoms in Older Residents in Rural Northeast China: A Cross-Sectional Study, The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Evaluation of the Potential Antidepressant Effects of Soybean Isoflavones, Menopause, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Consumption of soybean, soy foods, soy isoflavones and breast cancer incidence: Differences between Chinese women and women in Western countries and possible mechanisms, Food Science and Human Wellness, ScienceDirect.
- Male soy food intake was not associated with in vitro fertilization outcomes among their partners attending a fertility center
- Diet and Nutritional Factors in Male (In)fertility—Underestimated Factors