Soy and Phytoestrogens

Soy foods are rich in phytoestrogens and have controversial health benefits. Research on soy related to coronary heart disease (CHD), osteoporosis, cancer, cognition, and symptoms of menopause yield weak, inconsistent results. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed health claims for soy foods in 1999, and soy markets quickly expanded. Increased intake of soy and contradictory research on health benefits remain a concern. This entry describes soy and phytoestrogens in food, health, policy, and controversies.

In Food

Soy beans are legumes from nitrogen-fixing plants and are low in saturated fats and high in protein, fiber, and phytoestrogens. As weak mimics of animal estrogen, phytoestrogens protect plants against predators and sunlight and inhibit fertility in ruminants who consume them in plants. Phytoestrogens are one of ...

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