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. If you are interested in adding soy to your diet and wondering if there health benefits, then read on to 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 United States 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 may be 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/biomedical-libraries/natural-alternative-treatments. Updated December 2015. Accessed May 10, 2016.
Last reviewed May 2016 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 6/11/2014