Supplementing with soy isoflavones could help mood and mental function in healthy postmenopausal women, according to a new study published in Fertility and Sterility (2006, vol. 85, no. 4).

For the randomized, double-blind, crossover clinical trial, 78 postmenopausal women took 60 mg of isoflavones or a placebo daily. Those taking isoflavones showed significant improvement in 6 out of 17 tests measuring cognitive function and mood. Placebo takers showed no improvements.

During menopause, estrogen levels drop dramatically. This change can cause mood swings, memory lapses, and other symptoms. More women are seeking alternative means to relieve such symptoms, given concerns about possible side effects of hormone replacement therapy, such as increased risk for breast cancer, heart attack, and stroke.

When choosing soyfoods, go for organic, says Larrian Gillespie, MD, author of The Menopause Diet (Healthy Life, 2003). "They have been processed as little as possible," she explains, which is important "because both the protein and isoflavone components in soy are necessary to see a benefit."