Based on research conducted at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, it appears that adding soy to one’s diet may result in a reduced risk of developing diabetes and in improved insulin sensitivity.
The work of nutrition scientists at UMA led to the discovery of a molecular pathway that allows foods rich in isoflavones—bioactive compounds found in soy—to lower diabetes risk and to reduce blood sugar and improve glucose tolerance in individuals with the disease.
Study author Young-Cheul Kim says soy compounds do that by "targeting fat cell-specific transcription factors and the downstream signaling molecules that are important for glucose uptake and thus insulin sensitivity."
"These new findings help fill a critical gap between epidemiological observations and clinical studies on the anti-diabetic benefits of dietary soy," adds Kim.
Other studies have suggested soy may lower the risk of breast and prostate cancer and help manage the symptoms of menopause.
In addition to isoflavones, soy products also contain amino acids, proteins, complex carbohydrates, omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamins and minerals such as calcium, folate and iron, according to Soynutrition.com.
Popular soy foods include tofu, edamame, soy milk, meat alternatives, miso and soy protein powders.