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3 Reasons to Eat Soy

Whole soy foods can protect against disease, provide nutritional benefits, and taste great in a variety of dishes! Learn what makes soy so healthful, and ways to use this versatile food.

One of the healthiest changes you can make to your diet is to incorporate whole soy foods on a regular basis. Soy:

  1. Is rich in protein, iron and compounds called isoflavones, which seem to protect against hormone-driven cancers such as prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women.
  2. Helps protect your heart.
  3. May help protect against lung cancer.

I recommend one to two daily servings of soy in relatively whole and unrefined forms such as a half-cup of tofu, tempeh, green soybeans (edamame) or roasted soy nuts. You can also easily swap meat for tofu in dishes - baked tofu works well as a meat replacement in fajitas, stir fries and casseroles.

Get your soy with this tasty Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry recipe!

Why Soy for Hot Flashes Works for Some, Not All

Adding whole soy foods to your diet may quell hot flashes, but it's only likely to help if you're one of those women whose bodies produce equol, a soy metabolite. A study published online on November 6, 2014 by the journal Menopause concludes that 20 to 50 percent of North American and European women produce equol. Seattle area researchers surveyed women in a local health care system to identify those who didn't use hormone replacement therapy and who also consumed soy foods at least three times a week. The women who agreed to participate in the study were asked to report on the number and severity of their hot flashes and night sweats. Urine tests showed that only 34 percent of the 357 women volunteers produced equol. Among those women, 76 percent who regularly consumed soy reported a less than average number of hot flashes and night sweats. The researchers noted that measuring equol is done only in research centers, but women can get a reliable indication of whether or not soy foods will help quench their hot flashes by adding them to their diets for four to six weeks. If there's no change, you can assume that soy won't be effective for you. The researchers noted that the positive effect of soy for women who do produce equol still has to be studied and confirmed in larger controlled, randomized studies.

Soy: Healthy or Dangerous? (Video)

The debate over the health effects of soy continues as many believe soy can be dangerous for your health. Dr. Weil believes including whole soy foods into your diet is a much better choice than isolated soy components, which are often found as an additive in many foods.

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