One or two daily servings of Asia's favorite veggie protein curbs heart disease and certain cancers

Photo: Mike Lorrig

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Although sporadic reports have challenged the benefits of soy, the fact is, studies have consistently shown that this protein- and fiber-rich source of omega-3 fats and disease-fighting isoflavones promotes heart health and reduces the risk of cancers of the prostate and breast. In addition, phytoestrogens in this ancient Asian staple may counter natural estrogen’s negative effects on women—such as formation of uterine fibroids—and lessen menopausal symptoms. One caveat: the jury is still out on whether soy is good or bad for postmenopausal women who have been diagnosed with hormone-sensitive cancers. It’s best for these women to limit soy intake for now.

Choose It & Use It

Enjoy one or two servings daily of organic soy foods—the less processed the better. One serving: 1/2 cup tofu, tempeh, or edamame, 1 cup soymilk, or 1 ounce soy nuts. Enrich sauces, smoothies, and soups with silken tofu. Use soft tofu in scrambles or in place of ricotta cheese. Enjoy firm tofu (press out liquid) and tempeh sliced and grilled, diced for stir-fries, or crumbled like ground meat. Snack on edamame and soy nuts.