Saponins are compounds found in soybeans, chickpeas (garbanzos), ginseng, and sunflower seeds that have proven to kill colon cancer cells. As with phytates, saponins were at one time thought to be harmful, but are proving to be anti-carcinogenic. Their action appears to be the same as other known antioxidants. In one study, saponins were mixed with the HIV virus, and it stopped growing. If that happens in a human body as well, science will have made a breakthrough.
Seratonin is the neurotransmitter known to ease anxiety and promote a sense of well-being. Serotonin levels can be raised simply by eating carbohydrates. Factors that can lower seratonin levels and change the mood are: lowered estrogen levels, higher than normal progesterone levels; congenital hormonal abnormalities; low carbohydrate diet; excessive carbohydrates (especially sugars); weight fluctuations; consuming 80% or less of daily RDA’s; alcohol and drug abuse; deprivation of light; caffeine beverages.
Seratonin is a tryptophan derivative (5-Hydroxytryptamine or 5HT) found in the serum and a number of tissues including gastrointestinal tract, blood platelets, brain, and nerve tissues. It is a powerful vasoconstrictor and plays a role in brain and nerve function, gastric secretion, and intestinal peristalsis. It is also believed to influence the brain in regulating food intake.
Soybeans are one of the few plant foods that is considered a complete protein, containing the proper balance of the eight essential amino acids. It is particularly abundant in lysine, an amino acid that is usually scarce in plant foods. Even the US government and nutritionists have finally admitted that soy protein is equivalent to animal protein.
Soybeans, however, have several advantages over meat. They are low in fat; have no cholesterol (which is found only in animals); and are a good source of isoflavones and other phytochemicals that protect against cancer and heart disease. Soybeans contain fiber, iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and the B Complex vitamins. The only drawback, it seems, is that they do not contain B12, but this is easily rectified.
Soybeans also contain numerous anticarcinogens. One is phenolic acid, which prevents the DNA from being attacked by carcinogenic substances. Another is lecithin, which is proving, not only to prevent heart disease, but in reducing tumors by half. Omega-3 fatty acids are now in the spotlight, and fish is considered the best form of these fatty acids. However, with all of the pollutants, fish is becoming less appealing as a healthy food choice. Soybeans are the only other viable source supplying these beneficial fatty acids. However, there too, one must be careful that they are organic and not genetically modified.
Soy is suspected of lowering cholesterol in this manner. The amino acids in soy change the levels of such hormones as insulin and the thyroid hormone. Soy is high in glycine and arginine, which decrease the level of insulin in the blood. When insulin levels are low, the liver produces less cholesterol, which may explain why vegetarians are less likely to have heart attacks. Animal proteins tend to be low in these two amino acids, but are high in lysine which raises insulin levels speeding up cholesterol production. Australian researchers proved the theory that lean-meat, low-fat dairy foods, as advocated by the American Heart Association, were not as effective as a more vegetarian diet. Plant protein proved to be more than twice as effective in lowering cholesterol as the lean-meat, low-fat one. Nutritionists have long been critical of foods that have a low lysine content, but it seems that nature knows best.
Studies have proven that, when protein intake was as high as 142 grams per day, it was impossible to maintain a calcium balance, even with an intake of 1400 mg. of calcium per day. When the protein/calcium ration was balanced, the same amount of calcium was lost. Calcium loss directly corresponds to the protein intake. Studies have shown that when people ate the same amount of protein, those whose protein came from meat and dairy lost 50% more calcium than those who ate just soy protein. Those who consumed both soy and dairy fell somwhere inbetween. The explanation for this appears to be sulphur. Soy protein is low in sulphur-containing amino acids, which cause the production of sulfate in the urine. Sulfate prevents calcium from being reabsorbed into the blood by the kidneys. Instead it is filtered out into the urine and excreted.