Are Soybeans Good for You?

By Sylvie Tremblay, MSc

Native to the Orient, soybeans feed the world and make up a staple crop in the human diet, notes Dr. Theodore Hymowitz, writing for the National Soybean Research Laboratory. While they're somewhat high in calories -- a cup of cooked mature soybeans contains 298 calories -- soybeans make a smart addition to your diet because of their impressive nutrient content. Eat them as a source of protein and fiber, as well as essential micronutrients.

Protein and Fiber

Soybeans add nutritional value to your diet by increasing your protein and fiber intake. You rely on protein as a source of amino acids -- chemicals your cells use to build new proteins, including enzymes, antibodies and hormones your body needs to function. A 1-cup serving of boiled soybeans contains 28.6 grams of protein -- 62 percent of the recommended daily intake for women and 51 percent for men, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Soybeans also offer 10.3 grams of dietary fiber per cup. This makes up 27 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 40 percent for women, set by the Institute of Medicine. The fiber in soybeans bulks and loosens your stool, which fights constipation.

Iron and Potassium

Eat soybeans, and you'll also consume a generous amount of iron and potassium. Each cup of cooked soybeans contains 8.8 milligrams of iron, which is the entire daily recommended intake for men or post-menopausal women, and 49 percent for premenopausal women, determined by the Institute of Medicine. Your body needs iron to make up a component of red blood cells and support oxygen transport, as well as to produce energy. The potassium in soybeans also benefits your health -- it promotes healthy digestion, aids in muscle function and plays a role in nerve communication. A cup of soybeans contains 886 milligrams of potassium, or 19 percent of the recommended daily intake.

Copper and Calcium

Soybeans also make healthful additions to your diet because they provide copper and calcium. Your body needs calcium for healthy bone tissue, and getting enough of it in your diet combats osteoporosis. The copper found in soybeans maintains the health of your immune system, and it also protects your DNA from damage caused by toxic free radicals. A cup of soybeans contains 175 milligrams of calcium and 700 micrograms of copper. This makes up 18 percent and 78 percent of your recommended daily calcium and copper intakes, respectively, set by the Institute of Medicine.

Choline and Folate

Add soybeans to your diet for their folate and choline content. Choline helps you produce phospholipids -- the fats that make up your cell membranes -- as well as acetylcholine, a chemical involved in nerve function. A cup of soybeans offers 82 milligrams of choline, which is 15 percent of the daily intake for men and 19 percent for women, set by the Institute of Medicine. Each 1-cup serving of soybeans also offers 93 micrograms of folate, or 23 percent of your daily needs. Folate not only supports cell growth -- it helps your cells make DNA and protein for new cells -- but also prevents birth defects and complications during pregnancy.

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