Soy foods have potential for helping women in a number of ways. Soy may lower blood cholesterol, slow down bone loss, reduce menopausal hot flashes and possibly reduce your risk of breast cancer if you start eating it at a young age. So you can see there are good reasons to start incorporating this food into your diet. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

• Pour a calcium-fortified soy beverage on breakfast cereal or in a smoothie; use it in cooking and baking (soups, casseroles, muffins, pancake batters).

• Cube firm tofu and add it to soups—canned or homemade.

• Grill firm tofu on the barbecue. Brush tofu and vegetable kebabs with hoisin sauce or marinate them in teriyaki sauce.

• Substitute firm tofu for ricotta cheese in recipes.

• Use soft tofu in creamy salad dressing or dip recipes.

• Throw canned soybeans in a salad, soup or chili.

• Replace up to one-half of all-purpose flour in a recipe with soy flour.

• Buy roasted soy nuts in health food stores. They come in plain, barbecue, garlic or onion flavors. Enjoy 1/4 cup as a mid-day snack.


• Toss roasted soy nuts in a green salad.

• Replace ground meat with TVP (texturized vegetable protein) in chili, pasta sauce and tacos.

• Try veggie burgers (with soy protein) and veggie dogs on the grill.


Soybeans contain naturally occurring compounds called isoflavones, a type of plant estrogen. Genistein and daidzein are the most active isoflavones in soy and have been the focus of much research. Isoflavones have a chemical structure similar to estrogen, and this is one reason soy foods are good to include in a woman’s diet.

Aim for a daily intake of 40 to 80 milligrams of isoflavones. To keep your blood levels of isoflavones up during the day, consume soy foods twice daily. Depending on the food you eat, your blood isoflavone levels will peak four to eight hours later. Twenty-four hours after eating a soy food, your body will have excreted these isoflavones.

Soy foods vary with respect to the amount of isoflavones they contain. Even the same type of food made by different manufacturers can differ in isoflavone content.

Isoflavones in Soy Foods


Roasted soy nuts, 1/4 cup (60 ml) 40-60 mg

Green soybeans, uncooked, 1/2 cup (120 ml) 70 mg

Tempeh, uncooked, 3 oz (90 g) 48 mg

Soy flour, 1/4 cup (60 ml) 28 mg

Tofu, uncooked, 4 oz (120 g) 38 mg

TVP, dry, 1/4 cup (60 ml) 15-60 mg

Soy beverage, So Nice, 1 cup (250 ml) 60 mg

Soy beverage, most brands, 1 cup (250 ml) 25 mg

Soy protein powder, isolate, 2 tbsp (30 ml) 30 mg

Soy sauce none

Soya oil none

USDA-Iowa State University Database on the Isoflavone Content of Foods.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, 1999.

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