The health benefits of soybeans

Soybeans are legumes and part of the pea family. / Net photo

Soybeans, also known as soya beans, offer numerous benefits, including their ability to improve metabolism and protect the heart.

Rene Tabaro, a nutritionist at Oshen-King Faisal Hospital, says soybeans are necessary for overall health.

He says these legumes, when consumed, help protect the body against many diseases that are common nowadays, brought about by the lifestyle people are exposed to.

Colorectal cancer and diabetes are just some of the conditions that are prevented when one consumes soybeans. The legumes also promote bone health. 

He explains that soybeans have high levels of antioxidants which are good for preventing the onset of various cancers.

“Antioxidants seek out and neutralise free radicals, which are the dangerous by-products of cellular metabolism. These free radicals can cause healthy cells to mutate into deadly cancerous cells,” Tabaro explains.

He says apart from that, soybeans have the capability to reduce the effects of menopause for women who may have a problem when it comes to this.

“When consumed regularly, they have the capability of improving digestion, protecting against birth defects, boosting circulation and also toning of the skin,” he says.

Tabaro says the health benefits of soybeans come from the vitamins and organic compounds, including a significant amount of dietary fibre and a very large amount of protein.

Fibre is present in high quantity in soybeans, which is essential for a healthy body, particularly the digestive system. He adds that the presence of fibre in soybeans helps bulk up the stool, making digestion process smooth. 

Tabaro notes that they are also a good source of organic compounds and antioxidants, which further help in boosting health.

According to different studies, soybeans contain vitamin K, riboflavin, folate, vitamin B6, thiamine and vitamin C.

Joseph Uwiragiye, the head of Nutrition Department at University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), says soybeans are a source of protein.

Also, he says they are a good alternative to other sources of protein, like red meat, which is not recommended to eat on a daily basis.

“It’s all about high protein foods when it comes to fitness. Protein is an essential part of a balanced diet and vital for growing and repairing cells; and if you’re trying to cut down on meat or eat a more plant-based diet, soybeans can be the best option,” he says.

He says that when one has enough protein in their body, their metabolic functioning and overall system get a major boost.

Uwiragiye notes that protein found in soybeans ensures proper health and regrowth of cells, if they need to be repaired or replaced.

Also, he says that they are an excellent replacement for protein that is found dairy products. 

For people struggling with weight loss, Tabaro says soybeans can work wonders.

He says that this is so because consuming them has been associated with appetite suppression.

This, he explains, helps to eliminate overeating, which can lead to obesity and other related risks.

However, he warns that since soybeans provide a decent amount of fibre and protein, which help in weight gain, consulting a nutritionist before consuming them is important.

Erick Musengimana, a nutritionist at Rwanda Diabetes Association in Kigali, says soybeans are a source of healthier, unsaturated fat, which helps lower cholesterol.

This allows one to prevent conditions like atherosclerosis which can easily lead to heart attack and stroke, he says.

When it comes to diabetes, Musengimana says soybeans are an effective method of prevention and management.

He explains that soybeans have an ability to increase insulin receptors in the body, which will help manage the disease effectively, or prevent it from occurring.

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