Soy, a type of legume, can be found in many products. On the grocery store shelves, you will see soy milk, tofu, protein bars, veggie burgers, and many other options. Are you interested in adding soy to your diet? Are there health benefits? Find out if soy is a good option for you.
Some studies have found that substituting soy protein for high-fat meats and other foods may slightly reduce LDL "bad" cholesterol levels. Since high cholesterol puts you at an increased risk of developing heart disease, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows a "heart healthy" label on foods that contain 6.25 grams (g) of soy protein. But, researchers do not know the exact components of soy that may lead to these benefits. And some experts are debating if this label is deserved at all.
While soy is considered safe for most people, there are some health concerns if you have certain conditions, such as:
If you are concerned about any of these safety issues, talk to your doctor before adding soy to your diet.
Here are some tips on substituting soy protein for meats and other protein sources in your diet:
|Soy Food||Serving size||Soy content (grams)||Isoflavones (milligrams)|
|Soybeans, cooked||½ cup||9-11||40-50|
|Soy milk (regular)||1 cup||7||10|
|Soy milk (fortified)||1 cup||10||43|
|Textured soy protein||¼ cup||11||33|
|Isolated soy protein||½ ounce||11||27|
|Meat alternatives (soy crumbles)||½ cup||11||8.5|
American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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Soy. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated August 2011. Accessed July 12, 2012.
12/17/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Shu XO, Zheng Y, Cai H, et al. Soy food intake and breast cancer survival. JAMA. 2009;302:2437-2443.
Last reviewed July 2012 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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