This fact sheet provides basic information about soy—uses, potential side
effects, and resources for more information. Soy, a plant in the pea family, has
been common in Asian diets for thousands of years. It is found in modern
American diets as a food or food additive. Soybeans, the high-protein seeds of
the soy plant, contain isoflavones-compounds similar to the female hormone
estrogen. The following information highlights what is known about soy when used
by adults for health purposes.
Latin Names—Glycine max
What It Is Used For
People use soy products to prevent or treat a variety of health conditions,
including high cholesterol levels, menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes,
osteoporosis, memory problems, high blood pressure, breast cancer, and prostate
How It Is Used
Soy is available in dietary supplements, in forms such as tablets and
capsules. Soy supplements may contain isoflavones or soy protein or both.
Soybeans can be cooked and eaten or used to make tofu, soy milk, and other
foods. Also, soy is sometimes used as an additive in various processed foods,
including baked goods, cheese, and pasta.
What the Science Says