Just like using the right products makes hair beautiful from outside, consuming enough protein makes it strong from inside. But if you are on a vegetarian diet, the chances are high that your body lacks ample protein for healthy, long, and gorgeous hair. Here comes the significance of soybean. It not only makes for a healthful and nutritious food but also supports several hair treatments. Being a great alternative to animal proteins, soybean also stimulates the growth of hair effectively. In this article, let us talk about why using soybean for hair growth is a wise idea and how it can help your hair function at its best.
What is Soybean?
Soybean (Glycine max) is an important edible legume, which belongs to the pea family. Though originated in East Asia (specifically Central China, Japan, and Korea), soybean is now widely produced in the United States, Brazil, and Argentina. The beans are mostly used as the cheapest yet richest plant-based source of protein, which also contains plenty of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibers. This makes it a staple for millions of people around the world in forms of common soy-based foods (granules, chunks, isolates, etc.) as well as other delicious products and supplements derived from soy (milk, yogurt, cheese, tofu, sausages, powder, shakes, sauce, protein bars, protein drinks, etc.). Soybean is not only an integral part of the vegetarian diet but also great for every age group. Apart from various nutritional uses, soybean is also used for making crayons, candles, cooking oil, engine lubricants, and even eco-friendly fuel (1).
Soy protein is isolated from dehulled and defatted soybean. It is a high-quality protein that is easier to digest than regular protein powders. This protein is also known to be the best choice for people with lactose intolerance.
Different Types of Soybean
Organic and less processed soybeans work as the most potent plant-based protein food. But did you know that these beans can be of different types? Check them out below (2):
- Green Soy: Green soybeans or ‘edamame’ are young raw beans, which are mostly eaten steamed or consumed directly as an appetizer. They can also be used in salads and cooked dishes like stir-fries, soups, etc.
- Yellow Soy: These are regular soybeans that we include in our diet. Soy flour, milk, tofu, etc. are also prepared from yellow soybeans only.
- Black Soy: Though not very common, black soybeans are popular in several food cultures throughout Asia. They are either simmered or fermented to use in traditional dishes.
Nutritional Value of Soybean
Soybean is a complete source of protein that comprises all nine types of amino acids. In fact, it is known to be the only plant-based protein food that is equivalent to animal protein. While the nutritional profile of the bean varies based on the methods of processing, the USDA has found that a serving (100 g.) of cooked and unsalted green soybean has carbohydrate (11.05 g.), protein (12.35 g.), healthy fat (6.4 g.), and dietary fibers (4.2 g.). It has plenty of vitamins (thiamin or B1, C, folate, etc.) and minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, etc.) too. However, the amounts of sodium and saturated fat in soybean are very low and it also has only 141 Kcal. (3)
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Hair Benefits of Soybean
Being loaded with multiple nutrients, soybean is considered great for hair. It not only keeps the hair healthy and strong but also makes it shiny and lustrous. Here is what the easily available ingredient can do to your hair:
1. Provides Nourishment
Soybean is extremely beneficial for dull and damaged hair. It delivers lots of nutrition to the hair fibers and makes them healthier from inside. There are many herbal shampoos and conditioners available in the market that contain the extract of soya seeds. Soy oil also keeps hair naturally beautiful in a non-greasy and hassle-free way, which makes it popular among urban youngsters.
2. Conditions Deeply
When it comes to moisturizing hair, soybean is very much effective. It’s high protein and oil contents help in hydrating the roots of the hair deep down and conditioning the fibers deeply. Soy oil has also been accepted as a wonder item in the treatments of dry scalp and split ends as it stimulates and moisturizes the scalp quickly.
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3. Helps Hair Grow Quickly
Soybean seed extracts are widely used in aromatic hair treatments meant for hair growth. The oil extracted from the seeds of the beans is used as a hair oil that makes the scalp healthy and promotes the growth of hair. We will discuss it elaborately later.
4. Prevents Baldness
If you suffer from alopecia areata or spot baldness that makes you look aged, soybean oil is again the perfect help to bank on. It not only boosts the immune system and reduces cellular damage to prevent baldness successfully but also encourages new growth of hair follicles to restore the lost hair.
5. Improves Hair Texture
The oil and extract of soybean are often used in commercial hair care products, which helps in nourishing the hair from inside, making it considerably stronger, and repairing severe damage in it. All these cumulatively result in improved hair texture.
How Does Soybean Impact Hair Growth?
It is the protein in soybean that packs a nutritional punch for the good health of our hair. But knowing the science behind its impact is also important. Soybean contains a certain compound called spermidine in abundance (4). Researchers have found that spermidine impacts the most active phase of hair growth i.e. anagen phase positively and prolongs it to a great extent. This makes hair follicles stay in the anagen phase for a longer period of time, which results in significant growth (5). Several other studies have also proved that spermidine is effective in promoting human hair growth (6). Besides, soybean comes loaded with a bunch of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats that are essential for your hair. They also help in strengthening immunity, enhancing digestion, and increasing overall energy, which eventually stimulates the healthy growth of hair (7).
How to Use Soybean for Hair Growth?
Including more and more soybeans in your regular diet is the best way to nourish your hair follicles from inside and encourage the growth of the hair fibers. If you have access to soybean oil, you can mix a few drops of one or more follicle-stimulating essential oils (rosemary, lavender, etc.) with it for massage. This will enhance the flow of blood all through the scalp, thereby triggering the growth of hair considerably. Nowadays, commercial haircare products also include soy protein in their compositions as ‘soybean protein’, ‘soybean peptide’, ‘soy amino acid’, ‘glycine soja’, etc. Your haircare product may also comprise ‘hydrolyzed soy protein’ in which the soy protein is broken down into smaller amino acid chains for easy absorption and fast use. This hydrates hair, repairs damage, and improves hair texture while making it stronger and letting it grow (8).
Skin Benefits of Soybean
Not only hair but soybean is also quite good for your skin. If you are not sure about the skin benefits of soybean, here is a compiled list for you:
- Soybean evens out the skin tone by reducing hyperpigmentation caused by hormonal imbalance or prolonged sun exposure.
- The isoflavones in soybean are very much effective in treating issues like acne, pimples, and breakouts.
- Hydrolyzed, soy protein helps in moisturizing and conditioning the skin thoroughly. It minimizes the roughness as well as the chapping of the skin.
- Being a great source of vitamin E, fatty acids, and antioxidants, soybean heals and regenerates skin cells beautifully to give you a fresh and beautiful look.
- During menopause, soy isoflavones are known to protect the skin from the ill effects of hormonal changes. It restores the youthful radiance of the skin by keeping aging away.
Health Benefits of Soybean
Now, here is a quick look at the potential benefits offered by soybean for your overall health:
- Regular consumption of soybean is linked to healthy levels of total cholesterol, ‘bad’ or LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and triglycerides in the body. It also increases the levels of ‘good’ or HDL (high-density lipoprotein) in the arteries.
- When the cholesterol levels are lowered, your heart remains healthy and the chances of developing heart diseases including stroke, heart attack, etc. go down significantly.
- A 2019 review of studies revealed that soy isoflavones may reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes by improving the insulin sensitivity of the body and allowing it to absorb more glucose from the bloodstream (9).
- Osteoporosis caused by estrogen deficiency can be treated with soy isoflavones naturally and they are as effective in restoring bone density as hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It helps the body absorb more calcium from the food, thereby reducing bone mass loss and preventing fractures.
- The phytochemical content of whole soy foods may reduce the risks of developing hormone-associated cancer like breast cancer both before and after menopause in women. It also averts the growth of tumour cells to stop the spread of the disease. However, the anti-cancer properties of soy protein isolates or textured vegetable protein are yet to be known (10).
- Being low in carbohydrates and high in proteins, soybean helps in losing fat and controlling obesity in a natural way. It also stops the loss of lean muscle and triggers healthy muscle growth while promoting weight loss.
Potential Risks of Soybean
The topical application of soy extract or soy oil has no serious side effects. But when it comes to the intake of soybean as a food, there are a few concerns to consider. Consuming soybean in excessive amounts to meet all your protein needs from it may lead to undiagnosed hypothyroidism, estrogen imbalance, etc. (11) Also, opt for non-GMO, less-processed, and organic soybeans and soy products in order to avoid illnesses that are resistant to antibiotics.
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Soybean, the edible legume from the pea family, is the most potent plant-based source of protein, which also contains plenty of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibers. It is available as whole soy foods, soy-based products, and soy supplements. The integral part of the vegetarian diet can be of different types – green soy, yellow soy, and black soy. Among these, yellow soybeans are regular soybeans that we include in our diet. Being the only plant-based protein food equivalent to animal protein, it comprises all nine types of amino acids, which not only keep the hair healthy and strong but also make it shiny and lustrous. Soybean provides nourishment to the hair, conditions it deeply, prevents baldness, and improves hair texture. Spermidine in soybean prolongs the most active phase of hair growth i.e. anagen phase, thus leading to a significant growth of hair. Besides, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats in soybean also impacts the same positively. You can consume soybeans, massage your scalp with a mixture of soy oil and essential oil, or use soy protein-infused hair care products to grow your hair naturally. Soybean reduces skin problems like hyperpigmentation, acne, roughness, chapped skin, and aging too. In fact, it is very much effective in fighting against health issues like hypercholesterolemia, cardiovascular diseases, type-2 diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, obesity, and so on.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can Soy Make Your Hair Fall Out?
When taken in moderation, soy helps in improving the health and appearance of the hair. It turns hair long and strong rather than making it fall out.
Can Soy Cause Skin Problems?
Soy is generally safe for us. However, if you are allergic to it, you may experience reactions in forms of rashes, hives, flushed face, red and itchy skin, etc.
Can Soy Give You Acne?
Too much intake of soybean can give you both hormonal and topical acne. But if you have it in moderation, you can stay away from it easily.
How Much Soy is Recommended Daily?
For a healthy adult, the daily recommended intake of soy protein is 15 gm. only.
Can We Eat Soybeans Daily?
Soybeans as whole foods can be included in our daily diet. However, you should not have processed soy products every day.
- “Uses of Soybeans“, NCSoy.org
- “What to Know About Soy“, MedicalNewsToday.com
- “Soybeans, Green, Cooked, Boiled, Drained, Without Salt“, fdc.nal.usda.gov
- “Polyamines in Foods: Development of a Food Database“, PubMed.NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “A Spermidine-Based Nutritional Supplement Prolongs the Anagen Phase of Hair Follicles in Humans: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Study“, PubMed.NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Spermidine Promotes Human Hair Growth and Is a Novel Modulator of Human Epithelial Stem Cell Functions“, PubMed.NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “The Nutrition Source: Protein“, hsph.Harvard.edu
- “Hydrolyzed Soy Protein“, CosmeticsInfo.org
- “Biological Effect of Soy Isoflavones in the Prevention of Civilization Diseases“, NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “How Your Diet May Affect Your Risk of Breast Cancer“, Cancer.org
- “Isoflavone Metabolites and Their in Vitro Dual Functions: They Can Act as an Estrogenic Agonist or Antagonist Depending on the Estrogen Concentration“, PubMed.NCBI.nlm.nih.gov