Women who consume soy protein found in foods such as tofu and soy milk might be able to counter the negative effects of menopause on bone and metabolic health, a study suggests.
The study done on rats showed that those fed with soy had stronger tibia bones, which is an important part of both the knee joint and ankle joint.
For postmenopausal women osteoporosis, decreased physical activity and weight gain are serious health concerns.
Soy protein might have positive impacts on bone strength for women who have not yet reached menopause, the researchers said.
"The findings suggest that all women might see improved bone strength by adding some soy-based whole foods -- tofu and soy milk, to their diet," said Pamela Hinton, Professor at the University of Missouri in the US.
"We also believe that soy-based diets can improve metabolic function for postmenopausal women," she added.
In the study, the team examined the effects of soy versus corn-based diets on rats selectively bred to have low fitness levels. They were further divided into those with and without ovaries to mimic effects of menopause.
Comparing the impact of soy diet on bone strength and metabolic function on the rats it was found that the tibia bones of those fed soy were stronger compared to the ones fed corn-based diet, regardless of ovarian hormone status.
Moreover, soy-based diet also improved metabolic function of the rats both with and without ovaries.
"Our findings suggest that women do not even need to eat as much soy as is found in typical Asian diets, but adding some tofu or other soy, for example foods found in vegetarian diets, could help strengthen bones," Hinton said.