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Soy is high in isoflavones. Isoflavones are a
type of phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogens are chemicals found in plants that work like
In some ways, the human body can use them like
Menopause symptoms. Soy products
may improve menopausal symptoms, such as
hot flashes. This is based on mixed
evidence. So far, studies have used many different soy
sources and different measures of success, which are hard for experts to
compare. Soy isoflavone (rather than soy protein) studies have shown the most
promise for hot flash treatment.footnote 2
Eating and drinking soy on a daily basis has no known risks.
For some people, it upsets the digestive system.
The long-term effects of a diet high in soy have not been
well-studied. High soy
intake can't be considered safe until more
research is done.footnote 2
Some experts think that soy phytoestrogen does not lead
to cancer like estrogen can. But this has not been proven. Experts do not yet know if
a high-soy diet is a risk for women who have had breast cancer.footnote 2
Isoflavones are short-acting. If you use soy for health
reasons, try to eat it throughout the day,
rather than all at once. Try to eat
40 mg to 80 mg of isoflavones each day.footnote 2, footnote 1
Remember that soy protein is different than soy
isoflavone. A high-protein soy food may or may not have a large amount of
isoflavones in it.
Soy comes in many forms, so you have a lot of choices for
adding soy isoflavones to your diet.
Soy protein concentrate
102, aqueous washed
12, alcohol washed
Soybeans, dry roasted
Soybeans, green, boiled (edamame)
Meatless (soy) hot dog
1 hot dog
Meatless (soy) sausage
Soy cheese, mozzarella
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American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2001, reaffirmed 2010). Use of botanicals for management of menopausal symptoms. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 28. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 97(6, Suppl): 1–11.
North American Menopause Society (2011). The role of soy isoflavones in menopausal health: Report of the North American Menopause Society. Menopause, 18(7): 732–753.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerCarla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric MedicineCarla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
Current as ofFebruary 25, 2016
Current as of:
February 25, 2016
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine & Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
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