February is National Cancer Prevention Month and Heart Health Month. Many plant-based foods top the list when it comes to protecting against cancer and promoting a healthy heart. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes are a few examples of foods that can be staples in a nutritious and balanced diet. There’s one legume in particular that has been gaining recognition for its exceptional health benefits – and that’s soy.

The health benefits of soy can’t be fully discussed without mentioning isoflavones. Soy is one of the richest sources of isoflavones, which are commonly classified as a phytoestrogen (1). Isoflavones have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties (2). These powerful plant compounds can help fight and protect against malignant tumors (2). A meta-analysis that included 81 prospective cohort studies found that a higher intake of soy has been significantly associated with a 10% reduction in cancer incidence (3). This is just one of the many reasons to add soy to your diet if you haven’t already.

Soy has also been shown to protect against heart disease and lower LDL cholesterol (2). LDL is considered the “bad” type of cholesterol, and higher levels of LDL can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke (4). Populations that consume more soy show a lower incidence of heart disease (2). In addition to soy, fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have incredible health benefits, like lowering LDL cholesterol and keeping your heart healthy overall (5).

Soy products like tofu and tempeh don’t naturally have a strong flavor, which is one of the things that makes soy incredibly versatile for cooking. Both of these protein-rich soy foods absorb the flavors of whichever seasonings and spices you add. Just like you would marinate chicken or fish, you can do the exact same with tofu or tempeh.

Nutritious soy foods can be used in numerous ways for cooking. Here are a few new meals and swaps to try:

  • Soy milk as a base for smoothies
  • Marinated tempeh strips on a BLT
  • Steamed edamame with seasoning salt for a hearty snack
  • Scrambled tofu with seasonings and veggies for breakfast
  • Soy milk in oatmeal or fiber-rich cereals
  • Air-fried and seasoned tempeh strips on salad
  • Edamame hummus for a sandwich spread
  • Mashed and seasoned firm tofu for tacos

Soy stands as a nutritional powerhouse, offering a myriad of health benefits, and can be easily added into your diet starting today.


1. Higdon, Jane, et al. “Soy Isoflavones.” Oregonstate.Edu, 1 Oct. 2016, lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/soy-isoflavones#:~:text=Breast%20cancer,-High%20isoflavone%20intake&text=In%20a%20meta%2Danalysis%20of,of%20breast%20cancer%20(22). Accessed 10 Jan. 2024.

2. Krizova, Ludmila, et al. “Isoflavones.” National Library of Medicine, 1 Mar. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6470817/. Accessed 8 Jan. 2024.

3. Fan, Yahui, et al. “Intake of Soy, Soy Isoflavones and Soy Protein and Risk of Cancer Incidence and Mortality.” Frontiers, 4 Mar. 2022, www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2022.847421/full. Accessed 9 Jan. 2024.

4. “LDL and HDL Cholesterol: “Bad” and “Good” Cholesterol.” CDC, 16 May 2023, www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/ldl_hdl.htm. Accessed 11 Jan. 2024.

5. McRae, Marc. “Dietary Fiber Is Beneficial for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses.” National Library of Medicine, 25 Oct. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5731843/. Accessed 8 Jan. 2024.