Soy sense


Load up on soy products to help keep bones strong

I HAVE TWO neighbors, Ruth and Sarah, who are both nearly 70. Ruth eats a balanced diet that includes fresh produce and whole grains; Sarah eats mainly processed foods out of cans and boxes. Ruth has the posture of a ballerina; Sarah is bent over with a humped back because she has osteoporosis, a disease characterized by low bone mass and fragility that elevates the risk of a fractured hip, spine, and wrist.

Reduce the risk Sarah's fate may be more common than Ruth's. Eating too many processed foods, mineral-leeching sugars, and drinking phosphorous-laden sodas has created an epidemic of bone disease in the United States. The surgeon general predicts that four out of ten Caucasian women (those most at risk) aged 50 years or older will break a hip, spine, or wrist sometime during their lives due to thinning bones. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 50 percent of American women over 50 have reduced bone density, and 16 percent have osteoporosis.
building strong bones

New research says soy foods, in combination with bone-health mainstays like calcium, foods high in vitamin D, and weight-bearing exercise, may help stave off bone disease and degeneration. Soy is especially beneficial to women facing menopause because it is rich in natural plant chemicals called isoflavones, which exert an estrogen-like effect on the body to bolster bone density. Of the 21 studies on the effects of soy foods or isoflavone supplements on bone mineral density in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women, 14 found benefits on at least one bone site in the body, says Mark J. Messina, Ph.D., a leading expert on soy nutrition and adjunct associate professor of nutrition at Loma Linda University in California.

Reverse bone loss One of the studies looked at 300 postmenopausal women over two years and found that those who were given isoflavone supplements experienced a 6 percent increase in spinal and hip bone density. This is especially significant, says Messina, because when women go through menopause, they can lose 10 to 15 percent of bone density in just five or six years.

"Soy is no miracle food," cautions Christopher Gardner, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University, who has conducted clinical research on soy, noting that many studies have shown little or no benefit for bone health. But Gardner recommends soy for its folic acid, unsaturated fat, and other benefits.

Get the right serving Messina recommends you eat two to three servings a day (a serving, or about 25 milligrams, is a cup of soy milk, 3 to 4 ounces of tofu, or ¼ cup soy nuts, for example) to mirror what participants in clinical trials consumed: 50 to 80 mg of isoflavones per day. Messina stresses that traditional whole soy foods (tofu, some types of soy milk, soybeans, edamame, soy flour, some texturized soy protein) are the best sources of isoflavones. Highly processed soy products such as cheese, crackers, burgers, and bars, have fewer isoflavones. Check labels on products such as soy milk and texturized vegetable protein for isoflavone content — those that have it usually aren't shy about flaunting it.
soy supplements

If the idea of eating soy a few times a day seems daunting, Messina recommends supplements. "Try to consume at least one or two servings of soy foods per day, and use supplements to get the required amount of isoflavones," he says, adding that you should look for a supplement that lists genistein, the predominant isoflavone in soybeans, as the first or main ingredient.
cooking with soy

Soy is good for your bones, but it won't make up for otherwise poor nutrition. The most efficient way to incorporate it into your diet is to make simple and quick dishes that don't require additional processing. We've developed three easy recipes and a list of the best soy products to stock at home (see "The Soy Pantry" on page 42).

Homemade shakes made with nonfat soy milk and fresh fruit are an easy, naturally sweet way to get a daily dose of bone-boosting isoflavones.

Tempeh is a great addition to vegetable stir-fries, soaking up glazes and marinades and adding its sophisticated fermented flavor.
Mango Soy Milk Shake Serves 2

Mango lends a tropical aroma and flavor to this soy-based shake, not to mention high levels of fiber and vitamin A. If possible, use organic wild honey for maximum flavor and nutrtion. 2 cups nonfat soy milk with isoflavones, chilled 1 cup mango chunks, frozen 1 tablespoon honey ½ teaspoon pure orange extract

Place the soy milk, mango, honey, and orange extract into a blender and process until all Ingredients are pureed and incorporated, about 1 to 1½ minutes. Pour into two tall glasses.

Per serving: 165 calories, >1 g fat (o g saturated), 35 g carbohydrates, 7 g protein, 3 g fiber, 105 mg sodium (5% Daily Value).
Tempeh & Vegetables with Pomegranate Glaze Serves 4

This colorful dish features the exotic flavors of pomegranate juice and seeds and pistachio nuts.

¼ cup low-sodium tamari
½ cup pomegranate juice
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
½ cup water
2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon canola or grapeseed oil
6 large white mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1 clove garlic, minced
1 red or yellow pepper, cut into ½-inch chunks
1 small zucchini, cut into ½-inch chunks
2 carrots, cut into ½-inch chunks
1 head broccoli cut into ½-inch chunks
8 ounces of tempeh, cut into 24 cubes
3 stallions, sliced
¼ cup shelled, unsalted pistachio nuts, roughly
chopped Seeds of 1 pomegranate

1. Combine tamari, pomegranate juice, vinegar, water, chili sauce, and honey. Whisk, then add cornstarch, whisking again to incorporate. Set glaze aside.
2. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms. Leave mushrooms alone for 1 to 2 minutes in the pan so they brown.
3. Add garlic and sauté for another minute, being careful not to burn it. Add vegetables (except for scallions), and sauté for another 3 to 4 minutes. Add tempeh and sauté 1 minute.
4. Pour glaze over mixture, turn down heat, and cover. Allow mixture to steam for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the lid and add more water, if necessary, to thin out the thickened glaze.
5. Serve over udon noodles, whole wheat linguine, or brown rice. Garnish with scallions, pistachio nuts, and pomegranate seeds.

Per serving: 236 calories, 10 g fat (2 g saturated), 24 g carbohydrates, 16 g protein, 3 g fiber, 770 mg sodium (34% Daily Value).

MATURE SOYBEANS Available cooked and canned, these yellow beans make a quick side dish or a great addition to soups or chili.

Serving: 55 mg isoflavones per 100 g

TEMPEH A traditional Indonesian food, tempeh is fermented soybean formed into cakes with an earthy, nutty flavor. Grill, steam, or cut it into chunks or strips and use in vegetable stir-fries.

Serving: 44 mg isoflavones per 100 g

These dried chunks made from soy flour are commonly used as meat substitutes. Soak in water for about 20 minutes before using in chili, soups, stews, sloppy joes, tomato sauce, or as taco filling.

Serving: 270 mg isoflavones per 100 g

SOY FLOUR Made from roasted soybeans ground into a fine powder, soy flour gives a protein boost to recipes. Store in the refrigerator or freezer, and fluff with a wooden spoon before use. Use soy flour to thicken soup or gravy, or replace ¼ of the traditional flour called for in non-yeast baking recipes with soy flour (yeast breads should use only about 10 percent replacement soy flour — there is no gluten in soy flour so it doesn't help make baked goods rise). Items baked with soy flour brown more quickly, so you may have to reduce cooking time or temperature slightly. Serving: 178 mg isoflavones per 100 g

TOFU Made by curdling soy milk, tofu is then pressed into solid blocks. Firm tofu is good for stir-fries and grilling, soft is best for soups and salads, and silken works on its own, drizzled with soy sauce, a touch of hot pepper oil and sliced scallions, or pureed in smoothies.

Serving: 31 mg isoflavones per 100 g

SOY MILK Liquified soybeans are available in plain and sweetened, full-fat and nonfat versions, and in flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and almond. Opt for it instead of milk on cereal, in your coffee, in shakes, or in baking.

Serving: 25 mg isoflavones per 8 oz. reduced-fat soy milk

EDAMAME Harvested before the beans harden, this green bean is a tasty appetizer Boil for a few minutes in salted water, pile the cooked pods in a bowl and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Serving; 21 mg isoflavones per 100 g

SOYBEANS are available in everything from burgers and cookies to protein bars, crackers, and even vodka. But to get the most isoflavones (the nutrient that may benefit bone health in women), it's best to stick with more minimally processed choices.
Beans and Greens Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as 3 main course

This simple brasserie-inspired dish comes together in minutes. As a side dish, it pairs up nicety with grilled chicken or turkey sausage. As a main course, serve with a tomato salad.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can soybeans, drained and rinsed
6 cups baby arugula
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Juice of ½ lemon

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or a high-sided sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, and cook until lightly browned, being careful not to burn it.
2. Add the beans and coat with the oil and garlic using a wooden spoon until heated through, about 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Pile arugula into the pan, and work the leaves into the beans with the wooden spoon until they wilt.
4. Turn off heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, squeeze the lemon over the mixture, stir, and serve.

Per main course serving: 322 calories, 19 g fat (3 g saturated), 21 g carbohydrates, 23 g protein, 6 g fiber, 534 mg sodium (23% Daily Value).

LEARN MORE: For an additional smoothie recipe using soy, go to

PHOTO (COLOR): Beans and Greens (recipe, page 43)

PHOTO (COLOR): Mango Soy Milk Shake

PHOTO (COLOR): Tempeh & Vegetables with Pomegranate Glaze

PHOTO (COLOR): Beans and Greens




By Karen Kelly

Photography by Antonis Achilleos

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