UPDATE: Here’s why soy is a prime functional longevity food. Soy is packed with beneficial nutrients that support healthy heart, brain, and muscle function and reduce risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Soy contains:

  • Fiber
  • Protein
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Antioxidants

Eating tofu and other soy-based foods (not soy-based ‘processed’ foods) instead of animal-based proteins will lower your intake of saturated fat and cholesterol. Good sources of soy include: tofu, edamame, miso soup, tempeh, and unsweetened soy milk/yogurt.

Soy may have the following health benefits as well:

*In this study, women who ate the most soy food (between 12 to 46 mg isoflavones per day) lowered their risk of breast cancer recurrence by 27%.

Protective Protein and Isoflavone Content in Common Soy Foods

  • 3 oz tempeh = 13 gm soy protein / 51.5 mg isoflavones
  • 3 oz tempeh, cooked = 13 gm soy protein / 30.3 mg isoflavones
  • 1 oz of soy nuts (about 1/4 cup) = 12 gm soy protein / 41.6 isoflavones
  • 1/2 cup of cooked edamame = 11 gm soy protein / 16.1 mg isoflavones
  • 1/2 cup soy yogurt = 9 gm soy protein / 21.3 mg isoflavones
  • 3 oz (1/3 cup) of tofu = 8 gm soy protein / 19.2 mg isoflavones
  • 1 cup soy milk = 7 gm soy protein / 6.2 mg isoflavones

Karen’s Fit Tip: By making your own soy nuts, you control the amount of salt and oil. They make a great snack when you crave something ‘crunchy’! Here’s my recipe for making your own soy nuts.

Personal Note: I lost my mom and aunt to ovarian cancer – one of the deadly “silent” cancers. In retrospect, they also think my grandmother may have had metastatic ovarian cancer and not stomach cancer. Due to this family history, I was a participant in the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Research Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Based on their research and extensive genetic study, the researchers recommended removal of my ovaries due to the high risk of also getting the disease.

In 2008, I underwent a complete hysterectomy. The surgery launched me into immediate menopause. There was no easing into it with a period of peri-menopause. My physicians found it perplexing that I had NO menopausal symptoms. My endocrinologist was especially baffled and asked me about my diet. I told him I ate a lot of tofu and had eaten it my entire life. He could only conclude that my intake of soy (phytoestrogens) may have been the reason I didn’t experience any symptoms of menopause.


Karen Owoc

Karen Owoc is a certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist specializing in cardiopulmonary rehabilitation and lifestyle medicine. Her science-based approach to longevity, nutrition, and muscle health has made her the go-to source for health seekers and medical professionals alike. Karen's best-selling book on functional longevity, "Athletes in Aprons: The Nutrition Playbook to Break 100", and her transformative perspective have mended many minds, hearts, and spirits.

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