Join or Renew and Choose Your Gift
- Offer ends Dec. 17
- Discounts on travel and everyday savings
- Subscription to AARP The Magazine
- Free membership for your spouse or partner
A member of the legume family, the soybean is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and the B vitamins and is also cholesterol free and low in saturated fat. The protein in soybeans is complete, containing all the essential amino acids found in animal sources (4 ounces of tofu [soybean curd] contain the same amount and quality of protein as a similar-size hamburger). For individuals who want to include more plant-based protein in their diet and particularly for those on a vegetarian diet, soy products provide a way to add nonmeat protein to the diet.
Among the many benefits of soy are the potential for lowering one's risk of heart disease, menopausal bone loss, breast and prostate cancer, and osteoporosis. The results of a 1995 meta-analysis (combining results from separate but related studies) published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that consuming an average of 47 grams of soy protein a day, rather than animal protein, significantly decreased LDL cholesterol in people with moderately elevated or elevated cholesterol levels (low-density lipoproteins (LPLs) are the "bad" type of cholesterol and have been associated with clogged arteries and heart attacks). The study also found that high-density lipoprotein HDL cholesterol (the beneficial, or "good," cholesterol) was not affected by the consumption of soy protein.
Scientists suggest that soy protein and isoflavones are the active substances helping to keep blood vessels flexible and preventing deadly blood clots. Isoflavones are phytochemicals (naturally occurring compounds) found in plants, and they have potentially strong biological activity, meaning they exert a physiological effect, in the body. Phytochemicals give plants their color, flavor, and odor, and they have benefits to the body beyond basic nutrition. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a health claim stating that consuming 25 grams of soy protein per day, along with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk for heart disease. The FDA also suggests that four servings of soy foods per day can lower LDL cholesterol by 10 percent. To use this claim, a food product must contain 6.25 grams of soy protein per serving. The claim does not include a recommendation for isoflavone level, which remains an issue of debate. The 25 gram recommendation applies to all ages.
|Soy sources||Amount of soy protein|
|1 cup (8 ounces) soymilk||10 grams|
|4 ounces tofu||13 grams|
|1 soy burger||10–12 grams|
|1 soy protein bar||14–gram average|
|1 soy sausage link||6 grams|
|¼ cup roasted soy nuts||18–20 grams|
Many of today's common diseases are not diseases of aging, but of lifestyle, and they can take twenty to thirty years to develop. Typically, when soy protein replaces animal protein, the consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol goes down. About 40 percent of the soybean's calories come from fat, with the majority (54 %) being unsaturated. The polyunsaturated fat in the soybean includes omega-3 fatty acids, which are not frequently found in plants.
Author Info: Susan Mitchell, The Gale Group Inc., Macmillan Reference USA, New York, Gale Nutrition and Well-Being A to Z, 2004
Enter your symptoms in our Symptom Checker to find out possible causes of your symptoms. Go.
Enter any list of prescription drugs and see how they interact with each other and with other substances. Go.
Enter its color and shape information, and this tool helps you identify it. Go.
Find information on drug interactions, side effects, and more. Go.
From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.
Members save on purchases from The Popcorn Factory®.
Members save from top retailers online at Everyday Savings Center powered by NextJump.
Members save 10% on all Amazon Kindle e-readers and the Kindle Fire HD tablet.
Get the most out of your AARP membership – opt-in to receive AARP emails today!
Register at a location near you to keep your driving skills sharp.
Find opportunities to volunteer in your neighborhood.
NASCAR champ Jeff Gordon teams up with AARP's Foundation.
AARP Foundation Prepaid MasterCard brought to you by Green Dot.
Nothing has been viewed