Since their introduction to North America in the 1930s, soybeans have slowly but surely made their way into our lives and our stomachs. However, scientists still work to uncover the mysteries of this king of legumes.
The recent months have been marked by many new studies about soy, so many that it can be difficult to keep up. A recognition that soy is not a magical cure for all ailments has become more common. At the same time, new benefits of the bean are being discovered. Here is a summary of the latest findings on soy:
– In April, teams from Johns Hopkins University and Georgetown University looked at 18 different studies of the link between soy and breast cancer. They found an overall 14% reduction in breast cancer risk in women who ate soy. However, they noted that to maximize such benefits, it is important to consume actual soy products rather than soy supplements. They also pointed out that the reduction in breast cancer may be due to healthy living habits that often go along with eating soy.
– In January, the American Heart Association expressed uncertainly about the connection between soy and cholesterol. However, in June, a new study linked daidzein, a compound found in soy, to reductions in “bad” cholesterol as well as total cholesterol levels. The University of Pittsburgh team studied close to 500 women at risk of heart disease.
– Another recent study published in “Fertility and Sterility” indicated that soy isoflavones (found in most soy products) improve the cognitive function and mood of postmenopausal women. According to the study, the isoflavones act as a replacement for oestrogen and act to relieve the psychological disturbances often associated with menopause.
– In July, a new study from China determined that high consumption of soy isoflavones reduced bone loss in postmenopausal women. Sun Yat-sen University recruited 90 early-postmenopausal women, who were then given daily soy supplements. After 6 months, the women who had taken the highest doses showed the smallest decrease in bone density, especially in areas of the neck and spine.