Soy foods may protect bones after menopause

January 9, 2001 in Menopause, Nutrition Topics in the News, Women's Health

Soy foods may protect bones after menopause

A diet rich in soy may help women retain strong bones after menopause, helping to reduce their risk of fractures and osteoporosis, research findings suggest.

Japanese researchers report that postmenopausal women who consumed the most soy-based foods, such as tofu, boiled soybeans and soymilk, had the strongest bones after adjusting for the number of years since menopause began, and their weight. Very thin postmenopausal women tend to have frail bones.

Compounds in soybeans called isoflavones, which have a chemical structure similar to the female estrogen hormone estradiol, are thought to mimic the effects of natural estrogen. In this way they seem to be able attach to estrogen receptors on the bone and offer protection.

This may be helpful during menopause when estrogen production drops. Lower estrogen levels can increase the risk of fractures and the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, and lead to other menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, irritability, aching joints and depression, the authors note.

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