Saponins occur naturally in soybeans, peas, ginseng, herbs, vegetables and yucca. They are phytochemicals, or plant chemicals, possessing detergent qualities that foam when mixed with water. Commercially, saponins appear in beverages and cosmetics as emulsifiers or sweeteners. They’re also fed to livestock to cut down on odor because they bind to ammonia, which contributes to foul smells.
Eating saponins may help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. Your immune function benefits from these plant compounds as well. Your risk of developing certain forms of cancer or getting tumors may even decrease from eating more saponins.
If you’re working to lower your cholesterol level, eating foods rich in saponins may help. Your body uses cholesterol to make bile acids needed for proper digestion. When you eat, bile acids are released into your intestines. The detergent qualities of saponins allow them to bind to bile and prevent its reabsorption. Once bound to saponins, cholesterol leaves your body in waste. Peter R. Cheeke, Ph.D., from the Linus Pauling Institute, notes that many cholesterol-lowering medications perform the same role, and over time excretion of bile may help lower your cholesterol. A lower cholesterol level means less risk of heart attack or stroke.
Improved Immune Function
Eating more saponins may boost your immune function and fight off fungal infections, according to an article published in “ACS Chemical Biology” in March 2010. The study noted that saponins cause death of fungal cells, such as Candida albicans, which is responsible for yeast infections, thrush and many hospital-acquired infections. Saponins appear to enhance your immune system’s ability to fight off viruses and parasites as well. Pharmaceutical manufacturers often include saponins in vaccines to increase their effectiveness.
According to an article published in the “Journal of Nutrition” in 1995, saponins found in soybeans slow the growth of human cancer cells. These plant compounds may also cause the death of tumor cells, according to an article published in the journal “Phytochemistry Reviews” in June 2010. The exact mechanism of these cell deaths varies depending on the source and dose of saponins. Few studies on saponins used human subjects. Animals and isolated cells in test tubes are the most common subjects. More research would provide a better picture of the potential role saponins play in cancer treatment and prevention.
Please consult your nutritionist.
Source: Healthyeating, http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-saponins-9131.html
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