Soybeans, often known as soya beans, provide essential amino acids and supplement the older adult’s diet. Many studies have found that consuming soy in moderation may help prevent some health issues in seniors.
As such, the United States dietary guidelines for the elderly emphasize a diet low in saturated and trans fats and high in fiber, focusing on nutrient-dense foods. The USDA recommends incorporating soy into the diets of the elderly at moderate levels (20-25 g of soy /day). If consumed in moderation, soy has recently become one of the more popular protein sources for the elderly. Anti-nutritional factors (substances that interfere with nutrient metabolism) are also destroyed and easily digested when appropriately processed. Lean meat and soy have comparable protein content, but most soy products have a fat content of 2-4%, much lower than lean meats.
Here are eight benefits of soy food for seniors:
1. May Help Improve Heart Health
Like all plant foods, soy foods have a potentially valuable fatty acid profile, making them a valuable part of heart-healthy diets. Their protein content, on the other hand, may make them unique among plant foods regarding heart disease prevention. There is also evidence that soybean oil’s high linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid content may be especially beneficial in lowering the risk of heart disease.
Because soy foods are high in protein, isoflavones, and fatty acids, research suggests they can help heart health. Because of their high-fat content, soybeans are unique among legumes. Whole soybeans have about 40% fat as a percentage of calories, whereas pinto beans have only 4% fat.
According to recent research, incorporating soyfoods into a healthy diet may help minimize the risk of heart disease due to their nutritional fatty acid profiles and protein and isoflavone contents. It’s, therefore, no surprise that U.S. soy consumption has increased over the years.
2. Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are essential in protecting cells from free radicals and oxidative stress. Many mental health problems, including dementia and Alzheimer’s, are caused by oxidative stress. As a result, antioxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin A are in higher demand.
Soy milk is a source of antioxidant-rich soy isoflavones, which may help minimize oxidative stress. Soy is also rich in antioxidants that may help boost the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain cells. Antioxidants may also aid in the proper functioning of the body.
3. May Help Lower Cholesterol
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A person’s cardiovascular disease risk might increase due to cholesterol in the arteries caused by high LDL levels. Studies discovered that consuming 25 grams of soy protein daily for six weeks reduced LDL levels by a negligible but substantial 3% to 4%.
Additionally, soy milk aids in weight loss, particularly for men and postmenopausal women, and helps regulate obesity. Compared to conventional dairy, it has less sugar, and soy milk’s monounsaturated fatty acids prevent the absorption of fat by the digestive tract, which is beneficial for weight loss.
Researchers at the University of Toronto concluded that consuming 25 grams of soy protein instead of 25 grams of protein from other protein sources in the U.S. diet reduced LDL cholesterol by about four percent.
4. Can Help Prevent Cancer
Studies show that a lifetime diet full of soy products lowers the incidence of breast cancer in women. Contrary to reports that soy products increase the risk of breast cancer, a reasonable amount of soy foods may help protect against breast cancer or other types of cancers, according to Mayo Clinic.
Additionally, studies have revealed that soy food like tofu and soy milk may help lower serum estrogen levels, which are strongly associated with breast cancer. Breast cancer is more common in postmenopausal women, and soy milk can be a valuable source of estrogen replacement. The isoflavones in soy milk also significantly contribute to removing free radicals that may lead to prostate cancer in males.
5. Calcium in Soy Improves Bone Health
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A healthy diet high in calcium and vitamin D-containing dairy products, as well as a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, such as soy, can aid in maintaining bone density in later life.
Calcium is found naturally in soybeans. One cup (175 grams) of cooked soybeans contains 18.5% of the RDI, whereas the same amount of immature soybeans (edamame) contains around 27.6%. This mineral is also found in soybean products such as tofu and tempeh.
One way experts recommend avoiding osteoporosis is to eat a healthy and varied diet that includes calcium-rich items like soy milk. Elders can prevent irreparable harm from this widespread illness by strengthening their bones with calcium. Soy protein consumption has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, unlike animal protein diets that increase calcium excretion.
6. May Help Lower Blood Sugar
Seniors who have trouble controlling their blood sugar levels must keep a close eye on their numbers, daily activities, and what they eat. It has been demonstrated that soy products lower cholesterol, blood glucose levels, and glucose tolerance in people with diabetes.
Foods containing soy can replace other protein and carbohydrate sources in the diet of seniors. Since persons with diabetes have a 2-4 times higher risk of developing heart disease than people without diabetes, soy is an added advantage for them.
7. Postmenopausal Side-Effects
A soy-rich diet may help menopausal women have fewer hot flashes and night sweats, according to research linking soy to the condition. Studies show that hot flashes affect more than 80% of women postmenopausal years. These sweating episodes are significantly reduced by a plant-based diet that includes a daily serving of soybeans.
Low estrogen levels are the leading cause of the majority of menopause symptoms. Soy protein ingredients and estrogen receptors may alleviate discomfort in postmenopausal women.
8. May Lower Blood Pressure
The risk of hemorrhages considerably rises as elders age and their blood arteries weaken. A variety of nutrients, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are found in soy products and help strengthen and increase blood vessels’ flexibility.
According to research, soy nuts significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in normotensive and hypertensive postmenopausal women. Soy and milk protein dietary supplements reduced systolic blood pressure compared to supplements containing refined carbohydrates.
An aging body requires smarter nutrition. Nutritional needs in the elderly can change due to physiological changes in digestion, bone density, or sugar or cholesterol control. As such, experts recommended amounts of protein, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and healthy fats. Additionally, soy-based foods can benefit seniors because they contain fewer saturated fats than meat and fiber, good fats (monounsaturated fats), vitamins, and minerals. Older adults may reduce cholesterol if they switch to soy products in place of animal protein.