Eating soy products may lessen the progression of osteoporosis in women after the menopause, according to US research.
The report, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine said hormonal changes during the menopause thin bones and increase the risk of fractures.
In fact, during the five to seven years after the menopause when estrogen levels drop, women may lose up to five per cent of bone mass per year.
In the study, 24,000 women participating in the Shanghai Women's Health Study were sampled and analysed.
It was discovered that post-menopausal women who ate the most soy protein had a 37 per cent lower risk of bone fracture compared to those who ate little or no soy products.
Study author Xianglan Zhang from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee wrote:"In this prospective cohort study of post-menopausal women, we found that soy food consumption was associated with a significantly lower risk of fracture, particularly among women in the early years following menopause."
The women who were the most protected from brittle bones ate at least 13 grams of soy per day.