Get More Soy In Your Diet

Soybeans are the Cinderella of the food world. They ve been a workhorse, used for everything from cooking oil to livestock feed. But today soybeans have emerged as the closest thing there is to a wonder food.
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Scientists are delving into the many possible roles soy foods could play in bettering our health, such as reducing the risk of developing heart disease and certain cancers, and lowering chances of developing osteoporosis.

What's Inside

Isoflavones, estrogenlike plant compounds thought to be soy's main cancer-fighting component, are abundant in the little legume. Studies indicate that people who eat at least two servings of soy products per day -- for example, a 3-ounce portion of tofu and 8 ounces of soy milk -- show a reduction in cancers of the breast, colon, and prostrate. One type of soy isoflavone, called genistein, has been shown in lab studies to halt development of the blood vessels that tumors need to thrive.

The Heart Helper

Soy's cholesterol-lowering qualities are well documented. People with elevated cholesterol levels who eat about an ounce of soy protein a day may see up to a 10 percent drop in their total cholesterol levels. What's more, it's the level of undesirable, heart-disease-associated cholesterols -- LDLs and triglycerides -- that decline. And as an added bonus, there is a slight elevation in desirable (HDL) cholesterol.

Soy and Women

Women have reason to be encouraged about soy's health potential: Strong evidence exists that soy can help fight osteoporosis. Soy may offer some of the same heart-and bone-protecting advantages as estrogen-replacement therapy, but without the increased breast or uterine cancer risk that is thought to be associated with the therapy. (Estrogen can trigger cells in the uterus and breast to turn cancerous.) Although soy foods have been extolled for relieving such menopause symptoms as hot flashes, night sweats, and dryness, the science is still iffy. In some experiments, women experienced no change with a high-soy diet; in other tests, women had modest relief.

Soy Bang for Your Buck

Considering all the evidence, eating about 2 ounces of soy foods or drinking two glasses of enriched soy beverages daily will provide most of the health benefits that the bean has to offer. It's easy to find foods high in soy that you'll enjoy incorporating into your menu. There are more choices than ever, from soy-enriched breads to energy bars. Look for new soy-containing cereals too.

The United States Soybean Board lists the following popular soy foods and their protein content.

Food/Protein Content

1/4 cup roasted soy nuts 17 g 1/2 cup tempeh 16 g 1/2 cup cooked soybeans 14 g 1 soy-protein bar 14 g 1 soy "burger" 10 to 12 g 1/2 cup firm tofu 10 g 1/2 cup soft tofu 9 g 1 cup plain soy milk 7 g 1/4 cup shelled green soybeans (edamame) 5 g

Continued on page 2:  Soy Snack

 

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