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The New Low-Cholesterol Diet: Soy

Versatile soy protein may lower bad fats floating in your bloodstream.
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Getting Soy Into Your Diet

There are almost endless ways of getting soy into your meal plan. Here's a rundown of some of your options.

  • Tofu is a solid extract of soybeans. "It has a mild, bean-like flavor," says Ruth Frechman, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA.) "It can be added to anything you cook or it can be eaten right out of the package." Tofu is often used in stir-fries, curries, or stews. It tends to pick up the flavor of the sauce it's in.

  • Soy nuts are roasted soybeans, which can make a tasty snack. "Soy nuts are a convenient, crunchy source of protein," Frechman tells WebMD.

  • Soymilk is made from ground soybeans mixed with water. You can substitute soymilk for milk in your coffee or your cereal. Or you can just drink it on its own. "A lot of my clients really like smoothies made with soy milk," says ADA spokeswoman Suzanne Farrell, MS, RD. "That's a great way to get soy into your diet."

  • Soy burgers, soy cheese, and other products now fill the freezers and refrigerators at your local supermarket. Manufacturers have come up with soy products that mimic just about every kind of meat and dairy product. Buy a few different types and give them a try.

  • Edamame are soybeans still in the pod. They're sold either frozen or fresh. Frechman recommends microwaving frozen edamame in a little water and chicken bouillon for an easy way to get soy protein.

  • Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake. It can be used as a meat substitute, and works well in spaghetti sauce.

  • Miso is a paste made from soybeans that is used for soup stocks or as a seasoning.

  • Soy flour is a powder made from ground, roasted soybeans. It can be added to baked goods.

Choose the foods that you like. The key is to substitute soy for high-fat meats, such as hamburger.

Originally published September 2005.
Medically updated January 2006.

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Reviewed on February 03, 2009
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Cholesterol Glossary

  • Dietary fiber - The parts of plants that your body can't digest. If eaten regularly, fiber such as oats, pectin, and psyllium reduces serum and LDL cholesterol.
  • HDL Cholesterol - The "good" cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol helps your body remove "bad" cholesterol from your arteries.
  • LDL Cholesterol - The "bad" cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol tends to be deposited in artery walls.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids - A good-for-you polyunsaturated fat found in some fish and vegetables (salmon, flax seed, soybean, English walnuts, and canola oil).
  • Plant sterols - Found in plant foods, isolated from soybean and tall pine tree oils, they lower LDL "bad" cholesterol levels.

Which foods do you favor?