It's Time to Start Your Healthy Life
Soy foods are a great source of vitamins and minerals. B-vitamins, iron, zinc and an array of antioxidants round out the nutritional qualities of soy.
What are soy foods?
- Soy foods are made from soybeans. The soybean is a legume, named so because it grows in pods containing seeds (or “beans” as we call them).
- Soybeans are an excellent source of high quality protein, which most other legumes lack, making the soybean and its food products a superior protein source for people following a strict vegetarian diet.
- This kind of protein is next only to the protein we get from animal foods, many of which contain high levels of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol.
Position of the American Heart Association
Earlier this year, the American Heart Association revised its position on the role of soy protein and isoflavones on cardiovascular health. In contrast to the organization’s 2000 report that encouraged adding soy protein to a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, the 2006 report highlights newer research findings that indicate neither soy protein nor soy isoflavones have strong cholesterol lowering abilities.
- Eating soy is a great way to increase your plant protein. Research indicates that including more plant protein in your diet, as opposed to more carbohydrate, has clear cardiovascular benefits, such as lowering blood pressure.
- Soy foods are naturally cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat. Animal protein foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
- Substituting them with soy a few times each week can help cut saturated fats and reduce your overall risk for disease. See our table of savory soy protein substitutions.
- Eating soy-based foods is a great way to boost your fiber intake. Fiber promotes a healthy gastrointestinal system, reduces cholesterol, and is associated with a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Including fiber-rich soy foods like edamame (green soybeans), black soybeans, soy nuts, soy flour and tempeh in your diet can help you boost your daily dietary fiber.
- Soy foods are a good source of polyunsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated fats have a number of heart health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol. Choosing minimally processed soy foods will help you benefit from these heart-friendly fats.
- Soy foods contain omega-3 fats, essential polyunsaturated fats. Omega-3 fats are linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Soy foods are a great source of vitamins and minerals. B-vitamins, iron, zinc and an array of antioxidants round out the nutritional qualities of soy. In addition, many soy foods are enriched with vitamin B 12 , calcium, and vitamin D to help vegetarians get these much needed nutrients.
- Soy foods are a good source of phytochemicals. The phytochemicals in soy are called isoflavones. Isoflavones are currently being studied for their role in preventing postmenopausal bone loss and certain cancers. You can also contact the American Cancer Society for more information at www.cancer.org.