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Diet and Nutrition

SOY, SOY, SOY ... SOY GOOD!

The increasing popularity of soyfoods might be attributed to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) approval of a health claim related to soy and heart disease. Food labels may make a claim about the beneficial effect of soy protein on heart disease IF the food product contains at least 6.25 grams of soy protein/serving and is low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.

According to the FDA, 25 grams of soy protein per day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by lowering total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels. So the FDA recommends that you include four servings of at least 6.25 grams of soy protein in your diet every day.

So where do you find soyfoods? There are many options in the marketplace, such as soy milk, soynuts, soynut butter, tofu, soy yogurt, or meat analogs made from soy that are flavored to taste like pork, beef, or poultry. The U.S. Soyfoods Directory at http://www.soyfoods.com/ contains a database with over 300 soyfood manufacturers and their products. For more information, recipes, and books about soy, visit the Ohio Soybean Council's website at http://www.soyohio.org/ or Soyfoods Association of American at http://www.soyfoods.org/

Research on soy is increasingly popular. Studies have examined soy's effect on cardiovascular disease, cancer prevention, cognitive function, and bone health. Another interesting research topic is the estrogenic effect of soy and the potential for soy to alleviate symptoms of menopause, such as night sweats, hot flashes, and headaches.

Although there has been some concern about the estrogen-like effect of soy on some tissues, especially malignant breast tissue, the research in this area has been inconclusive thus far. The positive effect of soy on blood cholesterol has been shown in many studies, but much more research is needed on other potential health effects of soy.

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Last Reviewed: Mar 24, 2006

Bonnie J Brehm, PhD, RD Bonnie J Brehm, PhD, RD
Professor of Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati