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Here's everything you should know about essential amino acids and soy

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Soy, soybeans and soy milk have excellent reputations for being go-to foods for people who are conscious about their overall health. That’s no secret.

But why are soy and its byproducts considered to be so healthy? Well, there are many reasons, as many regular readers of this blog know. But one of the most important is the presence of amino acids - specifically essential amino acids - in soy. As you will discover should you continue reading, this makes soy standout among other plants and vegetables.

If you would like to learn more about the incredible benefits of amino acids found in soy and why you should add more soy to your diet, then read on. You may be surprised by how many health benefits this food source has to offer.

What are amino acids?

Amino acids are often called the building blocks of proteins. They are organic compounds that are composed of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. These compounds do many things for our bodies, including building proteins and synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters.

Some of their most important jobs for our bodies include breaking down food, promoting better growth, repairing body tissue, in addition to other functions, too.

Some amino acids can perform other functions if taken in supplemental form. These supplements can, for some individuals, serve as a way to boost athletic performance or improve mood, according to Healthline.

Essential amino acids aren’t needed at every meal to keep you body healthy. It’s more important that you get a good balance of them over the course of the day.

Why are amino acids important?

Our bodies rely on amino acids, 20 in total, in order to grow and function the right way. All 20 amino acids carry specific benefits, but some are considered essential, while others are non-essential.

There are nine essential amino acids. Those are:

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

The difference between essential and non-essential amino acids is that our bodies cannot make essential amino acids on their own. They must be included in our diets.

There are also some amino acids that are considered conditionally essential amino acids. These can be needed by people with certain illnesses or conditions. Those conditions don’t even have to be serious. Stress, for example, is one condition that causes our body to need certain conditionally essential amino acids.

Why our bodies need essential amino acids

Each essential amino acid provides the body with a needed benefit of some form.

Histidine produces histamine, which is a neurotransmitter needed for immune response, digestion, sexual function and sleep-wake cycles.

Isoleucine is helpful in allowing muscles to metabolize and also supports immune function, energy regulation and hemoglobin production.

Leucine is important for protein synthesis and repairing muscles. It can regulate blood sugar levels and also produces growth hormones.

Lysine also helps with protein synthesis. In addition, it produces, enzymes, hormones and absorbs calcium. This is all needed or energy and better immune system functioning.

Methionine helps with metabolism, detoxification, tissue growth and mineral absorption.

Phenylalanine assists with structure and function of proteins and enzymes in the body.

Threonine also helps with protein structure, specifically in skin and other connective body tissues.

Tryptophan maintains a good nitrogen balance. Its other benefits include help with appetite, sleep and mood regulation.

Where do we get essential amino acids?

Since these nine essential amino acids must be consumed for our bodies to benefit. That means we need to find ways to include sources of these in our diets.

One of the most popular sources for essential amino acids are animal proteins, which includes meat, eggs and poultry. However, soybeans and soy byproducts, including soy milk are also a great source of each of the nine essential amino acids.

This makes soy a complete protein and separates it from other plant and vegetable proteins.

Soy is a great addition to any diet

Add soy to your diet and you will quickly reap the benefits provided by this complete protein.

In addition to providing essential amino acids, soy, especially soybeans, are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Some of these include folate, selenium, potassium and magnesium.

That’s not all soybeans have to offer, either. They have antioxidants, isoflavones, phenolic acids, saponins and omega 3 fatty acids.

All these beneficial qualities make soy quite the healthy addition to diets.

Plis, there are many ways to enjoy soy because it can come in many different forms. There’s soy milk, edamame and tofu, but there’s also fermented soy-based foods like tempeh, natto and miso.

The health benefits of soy

Soy and the benefits to overall health have been well-documented. They come packed with protein. In fact, thanks to the protein’s presence in soy, soy milk is a great replacement for cow’s milk when compared to other dairy alternatives.

But that’s not where soy’s health benefits end. Soy can also promote lower levels LDL cholesterol, which is considered the “bad” form of cholesterol. This can help lead to better heart health.

Of the vitamins found in soy, vitamin C stands out. Vitamin C is critical for helping our bodies metabolize protein and absorb iron. This can help prevent iron deficiencies.

Soy and its byproducts are also great sources of dietary fiber, which can help the digestive system. Some of the benefits of dietary fiber include preventing constipation and combatting diarrhea.

Finally, the isoflavones found in soy have to be highlighted. These can assist in boosting the immune system and promote heart health, too.

Ready to add soybeans to your diet?

As you can see, there are so many health advantages offered by soy. Thanks to this, consumers are flocking to soy as they become more conscious about making healthy eating and lifestyle decisions.

Plus, soy is so versatile. Take the soybean, for example. It is very simple to take these little beans and turn them into delicious foods, including tofu, soy burgers and soy milk, of course.

Check out our blog for tasty recipes and to learn more about why you should add soybeans to your diet.