Types of Soy Products to Include in Your Lipid-Lowering Diet

Soy Foods

Soy products have been linked to a wide range of health benefits - including reducing your cholesterol levels. There are many different types of soy preparations available and they can be categorized by when they are harvested or how they are prepared. Additionally, soy can be converted into many other types of products, including flour, sauce, milk, nuts, and meatless foods. Of course, there is always the plain soybean that can also be consumed by itself.

Although soy can be found in a variety of foods, no one really knows how much of an impact soy has on lowering cholesterol. While some studies state that consuming soy can have a modest effect on LDL cholesterol levels, other studies suggest that soy does not have a significant impact on your lipid profile. Some scientists contend that soy lowers cholesterol by replacing the protein found in animal meat, which is high in saturated fat. Nonetheless, soy is a cholesterol-friendly food in that it is high in filling protein and fiber and low in saturated fat - making it a good go-to food if you are looking for lean foods to place in your lipid-lowering diet.

Although there are many types of soy-based products available in restaurants, farmers’ markets, and grocery stores, the following soy products are the most common:


Edamame is an immature soy bean that looks like a green bean and can sometimes be found in its pod.

Although the pod is not eaten, the beans within the pod can be easily removed and consumed alone or included in other foods - especially in salads and sides. To make your edamame-inspired dishes more cholesterol-friendly, you should make sure that you are using your edamame with other healthy ingredients - especially veggies, nuts, and beans.

When preparing edamame, you should limit the amount of butter and oils added, as this can heap on calories to this low-calorie, tasty food. Additionally, salt and sugar, which are commonly added when cooking or roasting edamame, should also be limited. 


Tofu is a type of soy product that is made from curdling soy milk and pressing it into a shape, such as a block. Because of this preparation method, tofu is also referred to as bean curd. Soy milk is very low in saturated fat and calories, so it is often used as a substitute for cow’s milk in lipid-lowering diets. Tofu can make an excellent substitute for meats that are higher in fat, such as beef or pork.

Tofu can also be prepared in the same manner as your higher-in-calorie meats, making them ideal if you are in the mood for grilling, sauteing, or barbecuing - all of which are cholesterol-friendly cooking methods. Tofu does not have a lot of flavor, so you may be tempted to add flavor to your tofu-inspired meal. Although adding spices are a low-fat way to maximize on flavor, adding fatty creams or sauces that are high in salt or sugar could sabotage your healthy tofu dish.



Tempeh are soybeans that have been slightly fermented, giving them a pleasant, slightly nutty, flavor. After fermentation, the soy is shaped into a patty. Tempeh may have other whole grains mixed in, such as rice, barley, or quinoa. Just like with tofu, there are many ways you can prepare tempeh - although you should not deep-fry this food if you are watching your lipids since this method can introduce unhealthy trans fats into your diet. Tempeh can be used your soups, stews, chilis or even lighly sauteed in olive oil with a few of your favorite vegetables.

Textured Vegetable Protein

Textured vegetable protein, also known by its abbreviation TVP, is prepared from soy flour. It has the consistency of ground beef - without the added fat - and is available in a variety of sizes. Sometimes, different types of seasonings and spices may be added to TVP to give it a little different flavor. TVP is often used as a substitute for ground meat in many types of meals, including:

  • Hamburger patties
  • Stews
  • Meatloaf
  • Casseroles

As with other soy products, it is important to pair your TVP with other healthy ingredients in order to avoid adding extra fat and calories to this already low-fat product. 

Labensky SR, Martel PA, Hause AM. On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals. 5th ed. Prentice Hall 2011.

Sacks FM, A Lichtenstein, L Van Horn, W Harris, et al. Soy protein, isoflavones, and cardiovascular health: an American Heart Association science advisory for professionals from the nutrition committee. Circulation. 2006; 113:1034-1044.

van Nielen M, Feskens EJM, Rietman A, et al. Partly Replacing Meat Protein with Soy Protein Alters Insulin Resistance and Blood Lipids in Postmenopausal Women with Abdominal Obesity. Am J Nutr 2014;144:1423-1429.

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