Discover the bone-benefits of soy

Soy milk, tofu, and other soybean based foods are good alternatives for people who want to add more plant-based protein and calcium to their diets.

As good sources of protein and calcium, soybean-based foods are bone-friendly additions to any diet. Other major health benefits of these foods is that they contain no cholesterol, are low in saturated fat and calories, and are a good source of fibre, iron, zinc, potassium and B vitamins. In fact, soybeans are the only vegetable food that contains all eight essential amino acids.1

Soy has also been investigated for its possible role in preventing osteoporosis. Soy is a rich source of isaflavones (often referred to as phytoestrogens) which, like human oestrogens, may potentially have a beneficial effect on bone. To date, study results on the impact of soy and isaflavones on bone health have been mixed and so far there is no real conclusive evidence - but research is ongoing.

The amount of calcium in soymilk and tofu varies and is usually much lower than the amount of calcium found in regular milk and other dairy products. However, most brands of soymilk are fortified with calcium so that, depending on the brand, you may be able to get about the same amount of calcium from a glass of calcium-fortified soymilk as you would from a glass of regular milk (ca. 240 mg in a 200 ml serving of milk). Now available in most supermarkets, soymilk has become an increasingly popular milk alternative for vegans and people who are lactose intolerant.

Tofu too, once used primarily in Asian cuisine, has now become a common staple in kitchens around the world - and not just for vegetarians. A 120 g serving of tofu contains approximately 125 mg of calcium. If you are interested in trying a recipe with tofu, IOF’s database of bone-friendly recipes contains several delicious dishes featuring tofu as a key ingredient:

As well as soymilk and tofu, edamame (young soybeans that have been harvested before they harden) are also widely available. A half-cup serving of shelled edamame contains 11 g of protein as well as approximately 4% of your daily calcium needs.

Although not always available in the average Western supermarket, there are many other soy food products to explore! These include tempeh (a cake of partially cooked whole soybeans), natto (fermented soybeans), soy yogurt and cheese, soy flour, soy nuts, and soy crisps, among others.

So add some variety to your diet – try soy-based foods as a nutritious and bone-healthy source of essential vitamins, protein, and calcium!

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1, Soy Protein. J Perinat Educ. 2003 Summer; 12(3): 42–45. 
2. The secrets of edamame