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Experts: Soy Is Healthy In Moderation

Posted December 3, 2002 8:27 a.m. EST

— Experts say a lot of people are turning to soy, whether it is to ease menopause symptoms, lower cholesterol or just to be healthy.


soy products

are packed with healthy nutrients, but researchers say it is important to know what you are buying.

"Is soy-soy, soy? Not really," said Dr. Claude Hughes, a national expert on soy and consulting professor in the obstetrics and gynecology department at

Duke University Medical Center


Hughes said the amount of soy isoflavones and protein in a product depends on how it is processed. Hughes used whole green soybeans, as an example.

"You're getting the whole package," he said.

According to Hughes, the more a product is processed, the less isoflavones it contains.

"Some of the soy proteins have almost no isoflavones. So, you're eating protein and that's what you're getting," said Hughes.

He advised to choose foods that are less processed, like tofu and soymilk.

Hughes said if the soy product is a processed one, look for the amount of soy protein and isoflavones on the label.

Other soy products also have health labels. A red heart means a product has 25 grams of soy, which is the amount proved to help lower cholesterol.

"That's an FDA-approved claim," said Hughes.

Hughes suggested that people should not go "soy crazy," but rather advises finding ways to fit soy into a healthy diet.

"Soy is not some magic substance. Neither are other foods and frankly neither are other supplements and drugs," said Hughes.

Different companies use different weight measurements on information labels.

Hughes recommended talking to a doctor or a registered dietitian with questions. Health food store employees can also offer help.