If you tend to feel down in the dumps when the excesses and social whirl of the holiday season come to a close, you’re not alone. One way to get back on track is to make healthy food choices and increase your exercise and activity. Versatile soyfoods make it easy to do that by offering plant-based protein that’s convenient to cook with, even on your busiest days. In fact, incorporating more soy into your diet makes good sense on several levels.
Soyfoods fit into your long-term plans for maintaining good health. Not only do they have a healthy nutrition profile and fit your busy lifestyle, new research indicates soy isoflavones may also have potential for improving depression. Here are details about the three ways soy can get your New Year off to a healthy start.
1. There’s new interest in the potential for soy isoflavones to improve depression. Depression is the most common illness worldwide, affecting around 350 million people. The number of people treated with antidepressants in the U.S. rose from 13.3 million to 27 million between 1996 and 2005. Depression is approximately twice as common in women as in men. Not only can depression have detrimental effects on relationships, the capacity to work and financial status, it also carries a risk of self-harm and has serious implications for physical health. Individuals with coronary heart disease and cancer, for instance, have increased mortality when they are diagnosed with concurrent depression. Since soy isoflavones sometimes mimic the beneficial effects of estrogen (improving skin health and reducing hot flashes, for example), researchers have been interested in their potential benefits for women with depression. The latest research in this area has produced encouraging results.
A group of clinicians from several South and Central American Universities compared the effects of two commonly used antidepressant medications, Prozac and Zoloft, to soy isoflavones (100 milligrams per day) and to a combination of soy isoflavones and Zoloft. All of the treatments—Prozac, Zoloft, soy isoflavones and isoflavones plus Zoloft—produced a significant improvement. At the end of the study, symptoms of depression were lower. Soy isoflavones were just as effective as drug therapy in treating depression. Furthermore, the combination of isoflavones plus Zoloft was more effective than either drug therapy or soy isoflavones alone. Researchers concluded that soy isoflavones might serve as an alternative to estrogen therapy for women with depression and could also enhance the effects of antidepressant drugs.
2. When it comes to diet and health, soy ingredients can be an integral part of your plans to eat more healthfully without sacrificing flavor or texture. The Soyfoods Council offers a wide range of recipes for appetizers, dips, baked goods, beverages, entrees and desserts, as well as tips for “soy-izing” your favorite family recipes to improve their nutrition profile. Choose from soyfoods such as tofu, edamame, soymilk, soy flour and soy nuts. One serving of soy provides 7 to 15 grams of high quality protein (12% to 25% of the daily protein requirement) with all the essential amino acids. Soyfoods are cholesterol free, and low in saturated fat. Soy helps prevent heart disease in three important ways, too. Due to its healthy fatty acid profile, it reduces blood cholesterols; soy also has a direct cholesterol-lowering effect, and may improve the health of arteries as well.
3. Soyfoods are convenient sources of protein, which means they’re an ideal choice for your active lifestyle. Whether you want grab-and-go snacks, breakfast options or versatile ingredients that can improve the nutrition profile of your favorite recipes, soy is a perfect fit. It’s easy to incorporate the benefits of soy into your daily routine. Start the day with a smoothie made with soymilk, soy yogurt or silken tofu combined with fresh fruit and juice. For mid-day snacks, try trail mixes made with dried fruit and soy nuts, or edamame. The Soyfoods Council also offers family friendly recipes for busy days, including one-bowl entrees such as Black and Tan Soybean Chili, with Cool Chocolate Mousse made with silken tofu for dessert.