Facts about Soybeans: Advantages for Women

Soybean advantages for women

Beyond protein, soy provides an excellent source of fiber, is good for the digestive tract, and promotes the feeling of satiety after consumption. Soy foods give women the energy they need to sustain them through their daily activities. They also deliver phytonutrients to fight inflammation and prevent disease.

Menopause symptoms, including hot flashes, improved in women following a low-fat, vegan diet that included whole soybeans. The Women’s Study for the Alleviation of Vasomotor Symptoms (WAVS) trial revealed many improvements, including cardiovascular, nerve, and muscle function, social interactions, and sexual health.

Soy is a quality protein because it has all the essential amino acids needed for optimal health. This versatile crop offers many different food and beverage options for women wanting to follow a plant-based eating pattern

In a half-cup serving, cooked soybeans offer approximately 150 calories, 15 grams protein, and 5 grams fiber. It also contributes B vitamins and vital minerals.

  • 23% of the RDA for folate and magnesium
  • 12% for thiamine
  • 22% for riboflavin
  • 13% for pyridoxine
  • 17% for potassium
  • 50% for iron for women over 50 
Soybean intake advantages for women infographics

Historical facts about soybeans

Humans have long understood the quality of the soybean, as it has been a farming staple in China since the 11th century BC. Over the years, this legume migrated to Japan and Europe, where it was primarily used as a fertilizer. 

The soybean arrived in the United States in the late 1700s and was first grown for cattle feed. Farming of this green crop erupted for human consumption as the need for oil and dietary fats grew in the early 1900s. 

Today, the US is the number one producer of soybeans and a major exporter worldwide. Soy is now used for various foods and beverages, animal feed, industrial products, and household goods. 

Culinary facts about soybeans

Does soy taste good?

Many foods contain soy, and you might not know it’s there unless you scan the list of ingredients on the label. Some foods primarily consist of soy, and the flavor is bland, so it tends to take on the flavors of other components in the dish you prepare. Varieties of soy foods include the following

  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Natto
  • Edamame


Tofu consists of different textures depending on how much liquid is extracted during processing. The one you purchase depends on how you will use it. If you need the tofu to maintain its shape, go with firm or extra firm. Tofu containing less water is more firm. 

You’ll use the firmer tofu if you plan to grill or saute the tofu. However, if you are making a cream soup, a sauce, or using it in a smoothie, you can choose silken or soft options. 

cooked tofu over rice

Cooked tofu over rice


Like tofu, there are several varieties of tempeh, and its uses are just as plentiful. It can be broken into crumbles and used as a ground beef substitute. 

For a quick high-protein snack, you can cut it into cubes and brown them in a skillet with a drizzle of oil, flavoring it the way you want to with herbs and spices.

uncooked tempeh

Uncooked tempeh


Like aged cheese with a pungent odor, natto is a unique sticky food made from fermented soybeans. It is a popular Japanese breakfast commonly served with rice and soy sauce.

cooked natto over rice


Delightfully enjoy steamed immature soybeans as edamame, a Japanese word meaning stem beans. For convenience, you can buy these bright green beans frozen in the pod or pre-shelled and steam them in the microwave or on the stovetop. 

cooked edamame

Does soy milk taste good?

Like any other milk, soy milk delivers its distinctive flavor and texture. You will find unsweetened, original, and sweetened versions of soy milk on the market. Choosing the unsweetened provides more of the soy flavor. 

Unlike many kinds of non-dairy milks, soy milk contains a comparable amount of protein to dairy milk. Its mild but recognizable flavor is pleasant. It is not as thick as some dairy milk. 

Is soy lecithin vegan?

Yes! Soy lecithin is vegan and can be used as an emulsifier in cooking and baking in place of eggs or some fats in recipes. Liquid soy lecithin supplies approximately 120 calories and 11 grams of fat in one tablespoon.

Lecithin holds oil and water emulsions together, which is essential in making mayonnaise and salad dressing. Soy lecithin can be purchased at your local grocer for home use, but food manufacturers mainly use it.

On an ingredients label, you can be sure that lecithin is vegan if it specifies it is from plant foods like soy or sunflower seeds. If it just says lecithin, it may be animal derived.

Fun facts about soybeans

  • Soybeans are also known as soya beans.
  • During the Civil War when coffee was in short supply, ground soybeans were substituted.
  • Ink, crayons, plastics, and fuel can be made from soybeans.
  • With its high nutritional value, soy is a major contributor to livestock feed.
  • Soybeans offer one of the most cost-efficient proteins for human consumption.

Soy and cancer

Isoflavones in soy foods are plant estrogens. Because estrogens are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, it was once thought that eating soy foods could increase a person’s risk. 

We now know that eating soy foods doesn’t increase a person’s risk of breast cancer or any other cancer because the amount of estrogen from foods consumed is so low.

One analysis that reviewed 46 studies found no association between poultry, fish, egg, or dairy consumption and breast cancer risk. In contrast, some evidence of increased breast cancer risk was found with red meat and processed meat consumption. A potential reduction in risk for breast cancer was found with the consumption of soy foods and nonfat dairy milk.

Another similar analysis, in 2019, also concluded that soy food consumption lowered breast cancer risk.

After a person has been diagnosed with breast cancer, including soy in the diet may help with survival and reduce breast cancer recurrence after remission.

The American Cancer Society recommends including fiber-rich legumes as part of a healthy eating pattern. Soybeans are in the legume family, so they fit the bill.

Soy and kidney health

As part of a low-protein diet, including soy protein can help someone with chronic kidney disease. Consult with a registered dietitian nutritionist for more information.

Isoflavone supplements  

Isoflavones in soy foods are of no concern due to their low content, but avoiding supplements containing isoflavones is advised.

Isoflavones in supplement form are taken by some women experiencing symptoms of menopause. These supplements, including red clover, should be used with caution because the plant estrogens in these products are highly concentrated. 

Isoflavone supplements may increase a person’s risk for breast cancer, especially if it runs in the family. Further, research has not shown any benefit from consuming red clover.

Another concern for using supplemental isoflavones is the potential negative impact on the thyroid gland. Changes in the thyroid hormones can potentially result in hypothyroidism.

Soybean benefits for skin

While writing this blog, we only found support for soy-containing skin care products’ positive skin protection benefits. Nothing was found that soy from food provided those same results. Because of all the other benefits that soy contributes to overall good health, it’s still worth including in your eating pattern.


The remarkable soybean has an array of offerings. It supplies healthy fat, carbohydrate, protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, and other key minerals. If you’re unfamiliar with this food, consider adding it to your next meal.

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Stephanie Turkel is a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Texas. She has 30 plus years of experience in the nutrition field. She now takes her gained knowledge and shares it with you to explain science articles into easy-to-understand information.

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Grace Rivers, RDN, CDCES

Grace is a registered dietitian nutritionist residing in Texas. She has over 30 years of experience in nutrition. Grace loves translating science articles into easy-to-understand information for you.


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