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USDA Guidelines Support Consuming Soy

Guidelines include soy-based products across four core element categories


The Soy Nutrition Institute recently issued a summary statement about the latest USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, highlighting the inclusion of soy products in all three dietary patterns for healthy eating.

The U.S.-style, vegetarian and Mediterranean-style dietary patterns recommend consumption of nutrient-dense foods and beverages throughout all stages of life. The guidelines define six core elements that make up a healthy dietary pattern — vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, protein foods and oils — and soy-based products are included in four of the six core elements: dairy, oils, vegetables, and protein foods.

“To have soybeans and soy-rich products included in something as important and influential as these guidelines is a significant step toward increasing overall demand for U.S. soybeans,” says Kevin Wilson, United Soybean Board farmer-leader from Indiana and Soy Nutrition Institute secretary/treasurer.

In the four core elements with inclusion of soy foods, soy-rich beverages and soy yogurt are the only plant-based milk alternatives in the dairy subgroup considered to be “dairy equivalent.”

For oils, soybean and other vegetable oils provide essential fatty acids in a healthy dietary pattern, and the guidelines advise consuming these oils in place of oils higher in saturated fats. Because of their nutrient benefits, edamame and soybeans fall under the vegetables subgroup “beans, peas and lentils,” with that entire food subgroup counting toward a person’s recommended intake of vegetables or protein.

To round off with protein foods, soy products including tofu and tempeh – and products made from soy flour, soy protein isolate, and soy concentrate – are included in the guidelines.

“This new guidance, based on an expanding body of evidence, demonstrates the versatility of soy due to its inclusion in most of the core element categories,” said Keenan McRoberts, Ph.D., vice president of science and program strategy for the United Soybean Board. “The recommendations provide data for soy checkoff use in strengthening U.S. soy’s important role in dietary nutrient supply.”

This report’s encouraging recommendation of soy in four of the six core food element groups offers an opportunity for the soy checkoff to continue to build momentum and partnerships in the food industry. Across the U.S., soybean farmers focus on being good stewards of natural resources and prioritize sustainable farming practices. To raise awareness of soy as a sustainable ingredient, the soy checkoff is bringing the sustainability of U.S. soy front and center to end-user marketing and sustainability teams. USB recently announced a pilot partnership for companies to use the Sustainably Grown U.S. Soy mark on ingredients and products made with sustainably grown U.S. soy.

“Food companies have an opportunity to promote soy’s health benefits and to inform consumers about their options to meet the recommended guidelines through ingredients and products made with sustainably grown U.S. soy,” added McRoberts.

The USDA dietary guidelines are released every five years and provide science-based advice on food and drinks that promote health and prevent disease. They are used to develop the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

About United Soybean Board
United Soybean Board’s 78 volunteer farmer-directors work on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers to achieve maximum value for their soy checkoff investments.

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