Soy, part of the human diet for thousands of years, has a history of safe use. Belonging to the phytoestrogen plant class, soy foods (especially soybeans) are one of the most significant sources of isoflavones genistein, daidzein, and glycitein. Besides the isoflavones, soybeans contain high quality protein and essential fatty acids; they are low in fat and contain no cholesterol.
So far, the most significant health benefit from the consumption of soy-containing foods is the reduction of the LDL-cholesterol levels, perhaps as a result of its similarity to estrogens. The evidence is strong enough that the FDA authorized a health claim label that allows soy foods to be marketed as "heart-healthy."
Animal studies show isoflavones may reduce the occurrence of atherosclerosis in monkeys. It appears to block the action of C-reactive proteins, makers of inflammation in people with heart disease.
In October 1999, the FDA gave food manufacturers permission to claim that certain soy products help lower the risk of heart disease. A diet that contains 25 g/day of whole soy protein that is also low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Note that the claim applies to intact soy protein found in whole foods such as tofu or soy milk and does not extend to isolated substances found in soy protein isoflavones.
Other possible health benefits are linked to soy, such as prevention of breast cancer, osteoporosis, and menopausal symptoms; however, these are not yet clearly well defined.
In Asia and Europe, the synthetic soy isoflavone, ipriflavone, is used as an alternative to estrogen therapy in treating existing low bone mass or osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
|FOOD||SERVING SIZE||AMOUNT OF PROTEIN|
|Firm Tofu||4 ounces||13 grams|
|Soy milk||8 ounces||10 grams|
|Soy nuts||1/4 cup||19 grams|
|Soy protein bar||-||14 grams|
|Soy sausage||1 link||6 grams|
|Tempeh||1/2 cup||19 grams|
To qualify for the health claim, 1 serving of the soy product must contain: 6.25 grams of soy protein, less than 3 grams of fat, less than 1 gram of saturated fat, less than 20 milligrams of cholesterol and low levels of sodium.
Miso is made from an aged mixture of soybeans, grain, salt and a mold culture. It is used as a condiment.
Soy cheese is a good substitute for any type of spreadable cheese. It can also be used to top pizza.
Soy flour can be used as a substitute for a regular flour in baked goods.
Soy nuts are a crunchy snack made of roasted soybeans.
Soy milk can be used as a substitute for regular cow's milk. It is lactose-free and is available in several flavors.
Soybeans can be used in soups, salads, stews, dips, and casseroles.
Tempeh is made by fermenting soybeans with an edible mold. It can be used as a meat substitute. It can be marinated or grilled and added to soups, casseroles, or chili.
Tofu is soybean curd and can be used in stirfries, soups, or casseroles. It can also be used as a cheese substitute in dips.