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Farming health benefits from soybeans

A new study announces more potential health benefits for soy, giving soybean farmers another item to add to the list of advantages soyfoods can provide. Compounds found naturally in soy, known as isoflavones, increase artery and heart health according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Hong Kong and published in the European Heart Journal. The study was conducted on patients with a history of stroke and high cholesterol. The results were measured by artery diameter and cholesterol levels.

Not only is this good news for soybeans and overall health, but especially for Americans whose leading causes of death are heart disease (number one) and stroke (number three) according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The soybean checkoff is always looking for more new uses for soybeans," says Jim Stillman, a soybean farmer and United Soybean Board director from Emmetsburg, Iowa. "Anytime research about benefits of soybeans comes out, it's terrific news for soybean farmers."

But possible benefits of soy don't stop there. The effects of soy isoflavones on human health is a hot research topic for the health community and USB alike.

"Isoflavones are only found in significant amounts among commonly consumed foods in soybeans," explains Mark Messina, director of the Soy Nutrition Institute. "They are truly unique."

The checkoff is involved in supporting research on several different topics related to soy and human health, including a recent review of soy and cholesterol studies.

Other studies have found soy may have the potential to offer many other health benefits, including lessening hot flashes in menopausal women and even preventing cancer. Along with that, soy's seeming ability to increase bone density could also be good news for those who suffer from osteoporosis.

"I consider the research encouraging," says Messina. "People, especially women, are well advised to consume two servings of soyfoods a day."

A serving of soy can be achieved by snacking on a half cup of edamame, pouring a cup of soymilk over cereal or adding a cup of soy nuts to a salad. Messina suggests that consumers try to find soyfoods they enjoy and add them to their regular diet.

USB is made up of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.



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