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Soy, a versatile bean, is found in foods like soy milk, soy sauce, miso (soybean paste), tempeh (which is kind of like a soy cake), and tofu. Soy is also sometimes added to foods like breads, cereals, and meat products, and used as a meat substitute in vegetarian products such as soy burgers and soy hot dogs. Foods that contain whole soy are a good source of protein for vegetarians and vegans because they provide all the amino acids — a type of nutrient — that people need to stay healthy. (People who eat meat get all their essential amino acids from animal products.)
Breast cancer survivors who eat soy foods, for example, have a significantly lower likelihood of cancer recurrence. A 2012 review looked at the three studies done to date on the link between soy and breast cancer survival. It showed that women who ate the most soy had a 29% lower risk of dying from breast cancer and a 36% lower risk of cancer recurrence. A fourth studyhas since been published that reaffirms these results. With an average intake of soy phytonutrients above 17 mg/daythe amount found in about a cup of soymilkthe mortality of breast cancer may be reduced by as much as 38%.
If you click on the above video, you can see a five-year survival curve for Chinese women with breast cancer. After 2 years, all of the breast cancer survivors that ate lots of soy were still alive, while only about two-thirds of the women who ate the least amount of soy were …
The real health benefits of soy might lie in its nutritional content and the fact that people often use soy foods as a replacement for less-healthy foods. Soy foods are a great source of protein and contain other important nutrients, such as fiber, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. Foods containing soy protein are also a healthy alternative to meats and other animal products that contain cholesterol and saturated fat.
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