Nutrition and Menopause

Have you brushed off the health benefits of soy because you don't like the taste of soy milk? Next time you go to the grocery store, take a look around because there are many types of soy products besides soy milk everywhere. And if you are a woman going through menopause you won't want to ignore the interesting new research linking soy to a reduction in some of the more annoying symptoms of menopause.

Soybeans are a great source of phytoestrogens and isoflavones. Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like substances found in hundreds of plants, mainly herbs, grains, and fruit. Researchers have shown that phytoestrogens may have benefits similar to those of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) but without the increased risk of heart attacks and stroke that comes with HRT. Among the benefits of adding soy to your diet if you are menopausal are a reduction in the number of hot flashes and a lower incidence of osteoporosis.

Here are some tips to help you add soy to your daily diet:

  • If you eat cheese, try some of the different soy cheeses available at your deli. Just like regular cheeses, you may have to try a couple before you find one you like.
  • Soy-based yogurts may not taste great alone. However, just as with regular yogurt, you can add fruit or granola to provide some variety.
  • Soy nuts are a great addition to trail mix.
  • Try using soy milk to create milkshakes or blended drinks. The various types of soy milks available include low-fat and vanilla- and chocolate-flavored. Try several until you find the one you like the best. Even if soy milk is unpalatable at first, you may not be able to tell the difference after adding fruit.
  • If you make cream soups, puddings or hot cereals, try using soy milk instead of cow's milk or cream.
  • Tofu, a processed soy product, once had a bad image due to its bland taste but these days there are hundreds of recipes to help you prepare and cook tofu to get the best flavor. You can add it to stir fry dishes, pan-fry it with sauces, and marinate and then bake it.
  • Edamame (green soybeans that come loose or in a pod) are fun to eat and a great way to include soy as a snack or appetizer.
  • Soybeans can replace beans in your favorite chili or bean recipe.