Jigna Sheth, Nutritionist & Fitness Consultant tells Nichola Pais about the benefits of soya protein for good cardio-metabolic health
Plant-based foods are more than a new fad – they are assuming added importance in our times of mounting cardio-metabolic diseases. “A relatively new term on the block, cardio-metabolic health is your risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome,” explains Jigna Sheth, Nutritionist & Fitness Consultant. With heart diseases representing 31% of all global deaths, being at risk of cardio-metabolic diseases puts your chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke high.
While regular exercise is key, healthy lifestyle changes and practicing healthy eating can protect one from the dangers of poor cardio-metabolic health. Opting for plant based protein is one such advisable move. “Not many people know this, but a vegetarian diet can be nutritionally adequate if your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, soy products, fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants is adequate,” informs Jigna Sheth.
Eating plant-based proteins like soya can have a favorable impact on blood lipids, she adds, maintaining that soy protein has been shown to lower LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides, raising heart-protective HDL-cholesterol and decreasing cardio-metabolic disease risk.
Among the pros, is the fact that plant based proteins are healthier than animal-based proteins. “Plant-based proteins compared with animal-based sources of protein affect your risk for cardio-metabolic disease in a different way. Eggs, dairy, meat and fish are a few examples of animal protein in your diet. Vegetarian populations tend to have lower blood pressure and plasma cholesterol compared to their omnivorous counterparts,” reveals Jigna.
Thus the risk of cardio-metabolic disease increases with higher meat consumption. The good part is, lowering disease risk is possible even without having a complete plant-based diet simply by replacing small amounts of animal protein with plant protein.
Soy protein is a better choice and a great alternative for meat. “It is the only widely available plant protein that supplies all the essential amino acids, in the proper ratios, making it a complete high-quality protein comparable in quality to milk, meat, and eggs,” points out Sheth. Although both soy protein and animal proteins both help you lose weight and maintain it, soy protein offers additional health benefits. It lowers blood cholesterol and can be consumed throughout the life span to promote cardio-metabolic health. It lowers blood pressure in people with hypertension. Sheth recommends one to two servings of soy protein daily (15 to 30 g) to improve your blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
And now for a factor that is a big draw for most – besides a healthy heart, soy protein apparently also helps you lose weight. “When you regularly eat soy protein in your diet, there is a definite improvement in your body weight, body composition, and cardio-metabolic health. It controls your appetite and dulls your food cravings. Unlike animal proteins, soy protein does not have any cholesterol and saturated fats. It helps you build muscle mass,” shares Jigna.
Time to give soya a shot, if you haven’t already!