You gotta love soy's staying power.

In Japan, where soy has been a dietary staple for millennia, heart-disease stats remain the lowest of any developed country. Here in the United States, soy snagged a health-claim approval from the FDA in 1999, based on its ability to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. More recent research indicates that soy also modestly raises HDL (good) cholesterol, lowers triglycerides, and may lower blood pressure and improve arterial health. “When all is said and done, the key point is that the known coronary benefits of eating soy … make it clear that these foods should be part of a heart-healthy diet,” says Mark Messina, PhD, associate professor of nutrition at Loma Linda University and an internationally recognized authority on soy foods. So toss some edamame into salads, use diluted miso instead of stock as a base for soups, crumble tempeh and add to stir-fried vegetables — and try these soy-based recipes for a healthier heart.

Edamame with Shallots and Braised Greens

Serves 6 / Good-for-you greens pair with velvety edamame (green soybeans) in this lovely side dish. Prep tip: For a slight taste variation, drizzle with balsamic vinegar just before serving. Go to Recipe

Spicy Miso and Pumpkin Soup

Serves 6 / Sweet and spicy, this thick soup uses a white miso base for flavor and nutrition. Serving tip: Present as an elegant start to any meal. For a more substantial soup, add cooked white beans and a handful of baby spinach leaves just before serving. Go to Recipe

Edamame with Cranberries, Feta, and Basil

Serves 4 / This simple, colorful salad marries heart-healthy edamame with antioxidant-rich dried cranberries. Serving tip: Perfect as a simple side with nearly any meal; or serve it on a bed of greens as a starter salad. Go to Recipe

Tempeh Curry

Serves 6 / This curry uses tempeh instead of traditional pork. Ingredient tip: Look for wild lime leaves, also called kaffir, in the herb or Asian section of natural markets. Prep tip: To make this vegan, use salt instead of fish sauce. Serving tip: Great over hot brown rice. Go to Recipe

Trouble with tofu?

Some fear that excessive soy consumption may cause hormonal disorders, among other concerns. But the problem, say experts, is the way Americans eat soy. “The way Asians eat soy — in small amounts and as part of their overall diet — isn't a concern,” says Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions (New Trends, 1999).

So be judicious: Eat soy in moderation. The best choices are traditionally fermented forms — tempeh, miso, and tamari — and whole forms, like edamame and soy nuts. Enjoy processed soy foods as an occasional treat.

Soy for supper

Get recipes for Tempeh Stuffed Peppers and Broiled Tofu with Cilantro-Ginger Sauce at

Health and nutrition writer Lisa Turner is enthusiastically experimenting with various tempeh dishes, including a tasty rendition of paella.