The isoflavones are a sub-group of phytonutrients (a group of chemical compounds that can be found in plants and have numerous health benefits but are not believed to be essential in humans) that make up part of the flavonoid family. The 2 main isoflavones are:
The isoflavones are mainly found in soybeans and soy based products with green soybeans, soy cheese and soy protein isolate all being brilliant sources. In this article I will be providing a full breakdown of how eating these isoflavone rich foods can benefit your body and discussing 5 incredible isoflavone health benefits:
1) ACTING AS ANTIOXIDANTS:- Antioxidants are substances that protect the body’s cells from free radicals (harmful by-products that are released during oxygen related reactions). Free radicals have been shown to increase your risk of developing cancer, increase your risk of developing diabetes, reduce the effectiveness of your immune system and increase the visible signs of ageing. Fortunately, the isoflavones are powerful antioxidants so by eating them you can avoid all these nasty effects and keep your cells safe from free radicals.
2) ACTING AS PHYTOESTROGENS:- Phytoestrogens are compounds that regulate estrogen levels in the body and have been shown to prevent cancer, prevent heart disease, prevent osteoporosis (reduced bone mineral density) and minimise the negative symptoms associated with menopause. The good news is that daidzein is a potent phytoestrogen and can provide you with all the benefits discussed above.
3) BOOSTING BLOOD FLOW:- Research has revealed that genistein can prevent atherosclerosis (a condition where hard plaques form in your artery walls and reduce blood flow). This means that by eating more isoflavones you can ensure that blood is always flowing smoothly throughout your body to the cells and organs that need it.
4) PREVENTING CANCER:- Cancer is a dangerous disease where the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in your body’s cells becomes corrupted. This then leads to rapid, uncontrollable cellular growth which can cause a tumour to develop. If this tumour becomes cancerous it can then spread to other areas of the body and damage the surrounding cells. Fortunately, studies have shown that the isoflavones can prevent a variety of cancers (particularly breast cancer and prostate cancer) which means eating these health boosting nutrients can keep you safe from this dangerous disease.
5) TREATING DIABETES:- Diabetes is another nasty disease that develops when your blood glucose levels become extremely high. This normally happens because your body stops producing enough insulin (a hormone that allows your cells to take glucose from the blood) or because your cells stop being responsive to inulin. In the long term, diabetes can seriously damage your cells and vital organs. The good news is that genistein can help manage this disease by making your cells less resistant to insulin and regulating the levels of glucose in your blood.
ISOFLAVONE HEALTH BENEFITS SUMMARY
The vast majority of UK and USA diets are seriously lacking in isoflavones. However, by neglecting these important nutrients you are missing out on all the health benefits discussed above. So try cooking with soybeans once in a while or when you do your dairy shopping try switching your milk and cheese to the soy varieties. Making these simple changes can seriously boost your health and allow you to enjoy all the isoflavone health benefits discussed in this article.