Soy

Humans have been eating soybeans for centuries. Unlike most plant foods, soybeans are high in protein. Today, researchers are interested in both the nutritional value and the potential health benefits of soy.

Several studies of people who eat a lot of soy foods, such as people in Asia, suggest that soy may help reduce menopausal symptoms, and lower the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. Researchers are also examining whether eating soy can help prevent hormone-related cancers, such as breast, prostate, and uterine cancer.

Isoflavones are phytoestrogens -- chemicals that act like the hormone estrogen. Soy phytoestrogens are very complex. They can either strengthen or reduce the effects of estrogen in the body.

Soy contains other nutrients as well. Some researchers believe the health benefits of soy foods may come from the combination of these nutrients and not just the isoflavones.

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Review Date: 2/4/2016  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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