Soy may help prevent or alleviate some of the top health concerns of women, including heart health, osteoporosis, and menopause. Soy is low in saturated fat, cholesterol-free and trans-fat free and it contains high-quality protein, essential fatty acids, and dietary fiber among other nutrients. Soy is naturally healthy. Adding soy foods to your diet is a great way to boost nutrition.
Soy Has Key Nutrients for Women
- Calcium: Start your day off with fruit mixed into soy yogurt as a great source of calcium.
- Iron: Salads topped with soy nuts or edamame will be rich in this essential mineral.
- Fiber: Adding tofu chunks to a stir fry adds 3 grams of fiber!
- Protein: Recent research indicates that protein is a key factor of satiety, a pleasing feeling of fullness that curbs appetites. Try a soy burger for a tasty and satisfying high-protein meal.
Did You Know?
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women aged 65 years and older, the 2nd leading cause of death among women aged 45-64 years, and the 3rd for women aged 25-44 years of age.
- 80% of the 10 million Americans estimated to have osteoporosis are women and another 33 million have low bone mass, increasing their risk for osteoporosis.
- The 2000 U.S. Census reports 37.5 million women are reaching or currently at menopause.
- Eating soy foods benefits many women who want to prevent heart disease, weak bones and hot flashes!
Soy & Menopause: Timing is Everything
Menopause, a normal part of women’s life may progress over several years and affect women differently. Symptoms can include hot flashes, mood changes, and problems sleeping.
Soy foods contain isoflavones, which are described as phytoestrogens because they are structurally similar to estrogen. Changing levels of estrogen and progesterone, which are two female hormones made in the ovaries, are thought to lead to symptoms of menopause. Therefore, some studies have found that hot flashes are reduced when participants consume soy, and some suggest that the benefits of soy are greater for those women experiencing the most hot flashes. Asian women, whose soy consumption typically begins at a young age, experience few hot flashes or other menopause symptoms.
Postmenopausal women experience rapid bone loss at a rate of three to five percent per year in the years after menopause, putting them at a high risk for osteoporosis and broken bones. Growing evidence suggests that soy foods promote bone health and help prevent osteoporosis, a condition associated with weak bones and high risk of fracture. Many soy products are fortified with calcium and vitamin D, key nutrients needed to keep bones strong.
Soy foods contain no cholesterol or trans-fat and are low in saturated fat. Consuming 25 grams of soy daily reduces LDL (or bad) cholesterol. Besides reducing blood cholesterol, soy has been shown to lower triglycerides and blood pressure and possibly increase blood vessel elasticity.
New research suggests that soy may actually improve memory and brain function in post-menopausal women.
Simple Ways to Enjoy Soy — Any Night of the Week
- Blend tofu or frozen soy yogurt with berries for a great smoothie.
- Spread soy nut butter on whole grain crackers.
- Experiment with soy pasta in the next Italian meal.
- Carry baggies filled with soy nuts, dried fruit, and cereal for a healthy, on-the-go treat!
- Fill taco shells with delicious soy crumbles, and top with lettuce, tomatoes, soy cheese, and salsa for a simple Mexican meal!
- Layer soy yogurt with fruit for a creamy, low-cal delight.
- Boil edamame for a few minutes on the stove. These crunchy soybeans can be served straight out of the pod as an Asian-inspired side dish.
- Wash down your meal with a tall glass of soymilk.
Agency for Health Research Quality. August 2005.
Annals of Int Med. 2005;143(1):1-9.
Casini, et al. Psychological assessment of the effects of treaetment with phytoestrogens on postmenopausal women: a randomized, double-blind, crossover, placebo-controlled study. Fertil Steril. 2006 Apr;85(4):972-8.