WISHH Perspectives

New U.S. Dietary Guidelines Recommend Inclusion of Soyfoods

The recently released 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans set forth recommendations to “make every bite count.” Consumption of soyfoods is recommended throughout the new guidelines.

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines encourage healthy eating, which focuses on meeting nutritional needs throughout all stages of life, with a dietary pattern that includes nutrient-dense foods and beverages. The 2020 Dietary Guidelines outline three healthy dietary patterns: U.S.-style, vegetarian, and Mediterranean-style. All three patterns recommend the inclusion of soy products. The Dietary Guidelines define six core elements that make up a healthy dietary pattern: vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, protein foods, and oils.1

It is notable that soy was included in the vegetables, dairy, protein foods, and oils elements.

  • Vegetables: Both edamame and soybeans are included in the vegetable subgroup “beans, peas, and lentils.” Because of their nutrient profiles, the foods in this subgroup may be counted toward one’s recommended intake of vegetables or protein.
  • Dairy: In the dairy group, fortified soy beverages and soy yogurt are the only plant-based milk alternatives considered to be a dairy equivalent and; therefore, can contribute to meeting the dairy recommendation while also supporting fluid intake to help prevent dehydration.1
  • Protein foods: Soy products including tofu, tempeh, and products made from soy flour, soy protein isolate, and soy concentrate are all included in the protein category. Of note, the Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming 5 ounces of soy protein products per week (for those consuming a 2,000 calorie/day diet) but indicate that more than half of Americans do not meet this recommendation.1
  • Oils: Oils, including soybean and vegetable oil, are included in a healthy dietary pattern because they provide essential fatty acids. The Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming vegetable and soybean oil in place of fats higher in saturated fat.

Background on the Dietary Guidelines

The Dietary Guidelines provide science-based advice on food and drinks to promote health and prevent disease.1 Released every five years, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines provide guidance for healthy eating at every stage of life from birth to older adulthood and includes guidelines for pregnancy and lactation. The Dietary Guidelines are designed to help nutrition and health professionals promote a healthy, nutritionally adequate diet. They are the basis for the development of programs including the National School Lunch Program, National School Breakfast Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).


  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at DietaryGuidelines.gov.

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