Health benefits of soy and soy phytochemicals
Soy is an important commodity and a long-time staple food in eastern Asian countries. Recent research and clinical studies have provided ample evidence for the health benefits of soy and soy foods, which have also contributed to an increase in soy consumption among the Western population. The current mini-review aims to summarize the current knowledge of the health benefits of soy and soy phytochemicals, and their reported effects in preventing (I) cardiovascular disease, (II) obesity-related metabolic syndrome, (III) certain types of cancers, and (IV) other chronic diseases. In addition to the widely reported soy isoflavones, namely, genistein, daidzein, and glycitein, a novel group of soy phytoalexins, glyceollins, have also shown promising biological activities, such as insulinotropic, antiestrogenic, antiproliferative, antioxidation, anti-inflammation, and cholesterol-lowering effects. The elucidation of soy’s health benefits is an important part of promoting the consumption of soy as a functional food and the understanding of the mechanism of actions of soy and soy phytochemicals’ biological activities will provide further evidence for the optimized use for health promotion.