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The Benefits, Risks, and Uncertainties of Soy for Lower Blood Cholesterol
Soy and Cholesterol Levels
Soy Safety Issues
- Impaired thyroid function—Soy may affect the thyroid gland, but research had produced conflicting results. In general, if you have problems with your thyroid gland, it is a good idea to avoid eating large amounts of soy.
- Lower testosterone levels—One study found that soy may decrease testosterone levels in men. This could potentially cause problems with infertility or erectile dysfunction.
- Problems with absorbing certain nutrients—Soy could reduce how well your body absorbs zinc, iron, and calcium.
Ways to Get More Soy Into Your Diet
Include it in other dishes:
- Mash a cake of tofu and use it in place of ricotta cheese in your lasagna, soups, or stews.
- Mix textured vegetable protein into hamburgers and seasoned meat dishes like tacos, chili, and casseroles.
- Add cubes of fried, seasoned tofu to salads.
- Try Asian cuisine—Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese foods often contain flavorful soy options, including tofu, tempeh, and edamame (green soy beans). Edamame is eaten cold and salted. Tofu and tempeh can be stir-fried, steamed, or added to soups.
- Use supplements and soy protein powders—Try mixing soy protein powders into smoothies or mashed potatoes.
- Soy nuts, flavored with salt and spices, make a delicious snack.
- Use soymilk in cereal.
Major Food Sources
|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 http://www.heart.org
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov
Dietitians of Canada http://www.dietitians.ca
Health Canada http://hc-sc.gc.ca
20 ways to increase soy in your diet. University of California San Francisco Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/20%5Fways%5Fto%5Fincrease%5Fsoy%5Fin%5Fyour%5Fdiet/index.html. Accessed June 11, 2014.
Go Ask Alice: What are the benefits of soy? Columbia University website. Available at: http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/what-are-benefits-soy. Updated November 2011. Accessed June 11, 2014.
Hypercholesterolemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 3, 2014. Accessed June 11, 2014.
Harland JL, Carr TA. Does a practical daily intake of ~25 g soy protein significantly lower cholesterol?—A meta-analysis of recent studies. J of Nutr. 2004;134(5):1267S (Poster Abstract).
Mackey R, Ekangaki A, Eden JA. The effects of soy protein in women and men with elevated plasma lipids. Biofactors. 2000;12:251-257.
Qin Y, Niu K. Isoflavones for hypercholesterolaemia in adults. Cochrane Database Sys Rev. 2013:6: CD009518.
Rosell MS, Appleby PN, Spencer EA, Key TJ. Soy intake and blood cholesterol concentrations: a cross-sectional study of 1033 pre- and postmenopausal women in the oxford arm of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. American J of Clin Nutr. 2004;80(5):1391-1396.
Sacks FM, Lichtenstein A, Van Horn L, Harris W, Kris-Etherton P, Winston M; American Heart Association Nutrition Committee. Soy protein, isoflavones, and cardiovascular health: an American Heart Association Science Advisory for professionals from the Nutrition Committee. Circulation. 2006;113(7):1034-44.
Siegel-Itzkovich J. Health committee warns of potential dangers of soya. BMJ. 2005;331(7511):254.
Soy. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/biomedical-libraries/natural-alternative-treatments. Updated August 22, 2013. Accessed June 11, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 06/2014
- Update Date: 06/11/2014