More Americans than ever before recognize the health benefits that soyfoods provide for women’s health. Five times as many Americans stated soy is “good for women” in the 2011 Consumer Attitudes about Nutrition survey compared to 2010 (3 percent in 2010 vs.15 percent in 2011). The United Soybean Board conducts the annual survey, now in its 18th year, to guide its educational outreach efforts.

“Many women see improvements with soyfoods in hot flash relief and in the prevention of bone loss,” said Lisa Kelly, MPH, RD, for the United Soybean Board. “Soy is a unique dietary source of isoflavones, which have a mild estrogen-like effect under certain conditions, and soyfoods are also a source for high-quality protein.”

In addition to citing soy’s health benefits as being “good for women/regulating hormones,” consumers also associated other health benefits with soy including that it is a good source of protein (22 percent, up significantly from 16 percent in 2010), is low in fat and may lower cholesterol.

Understanding of ‘Good Fats’ on the Rise

Consumer understanding of the importance of eating “good fats” also rose, up eight percentage points from last year. In this year’s survey, 53 percent of Americans reported that the most effective strategy for improving overall health is to follow a moderate fat diet that chooses “good” fats over “bad” fats, rather than to adopt an overall low-fat diet by reducing all fat intake.

“Both women and men can benefit from a diet that includes a moderate amount of heart-healthy ‘good’ fats,” said Kelly. “Look for poly- and mono-unsaturated fats, which reduce LDL cholesterol, on the label when choosing cooking oils. Try to avoid the ‘bad’ saturated and trans fats. Soybean oil, often labeled as vegetable oil, is a great choice because it has the right fat content, is easy to find at the supermarket and is budget-friendly.”

Other Key Survey Findings

  • There is growing awareness of the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. In 2011, 79 percent of Americans reported that they consider omega-3 fatty acids very or somewhat healthy. This represents a dramatic increase from 70 percent four years ago. A new soybean high in omega-3 is in development and expected to be on the market in the next few years.
  • More Americans are consuming soy products than ever before and 37 percent of people noted that they consume soyfoods or soy beverages at least once a month.
  • In a question new to the survey this year, 61 percent of consumers reported that they are at least somewhat concerned about the social and environmental sustainability of foods they eat. Among those who are concerned about sustainability, 70 percent are taking steps to change their habits, including attempting to buy local and/or organic foods and reading labels.

About the Study

USB’s 18th annual Consumer Attitudes about Nutrition was conducted by an independent research firm. The study includes 1,000 random online surveys conducted in January 2011, providing a sample that is consistent the total U.S. population. The study’s margin of error is +/- 1.9 to 3.1 percent, with a confidence interval of 95 percent.

About USB

USB is made up of 69 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

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