Although a carnivorous diet can be healthy, it may lack many important nutrients that are specific to plant protein. Getting your protein from soy foods can provide some vitamins and micronutrients that meat doesn’t offer.
Important as an antioxidant for your immune system, vitamin C is also involved in protein metabolism and is necessary for the absorption of nonheme iron that’s present in plant-based foods. Vitamin C is abundant in many plant foods, including soy, but is not found in useful amounts in animal foods. The USDA recommends a daily intake of 75 milligrams for adult women and 90 milligrams for men. Not getting enough vitamin C in your diet may lead to iron-deficiency anemia.
Flavonoids are a diverse group of phytonutrients found only in plants. Soybean and soy products, including tofu, tempeh, miso and edamame, are the richest and most concentrated source of these powerful antioxidants available, says the Linus Pauling Institute. Of those, edamame, or green soybeans, contains the highest amount — 138 milligrams per 3/4 cup — followed by cooked soybeans, with 81 milligrams for the same amount.
Dietary flavonoids have been studied extensively for their role in promoting health and preventing disease. A study published in the journal Medicines in 2017 reported that an intake of dietary soy during the early stages of life may provide protection against breast cancer in adulthood.
The anti-inflammatory benefits and immune system benefits from flavonoids in plants may be a contributing factor to the association of reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, as discovered in a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2014.
In addition, the antioxidants in soy isoflavones have been associated with a possible reduced risk of certain cancers, including prostate cancer.
Dietary fiber is defined as the parts of food that can’t be digested and form roughage, or bulk, that contributes to the health of your digestive system. Fiber can help prevent constipation and diarrhea.
Dietary Guidelines recommends a daily intake of 28 to 33.6 grams for men and 22.4 to 28 grams for women, depending on age. Plant food, including soy, contains an abundance of fiber, but meat doesn’t provide any significant amount.
Fiber contributes to a feeling of fullness after a meal, which may help you eat less. A high intake of fiber was linked to weight management in a 2017 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism.
Furthermore, researchers analyzed 22 cohort studies and found that a greater intake of fiber is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. These results were published in BMJ in 2013.