An annual survey conducted by the United Soybean Board (USB) shows that America’s consumption of soy continues to rise, as does the recognition of soy’s health benefits.

Seventy-six percent of American consumers consider soy products to be healthy, up from 71 percent last year. Thirty-nine percent are aware of soy’s specific health benefits, including: lowering cholesterol, high fiber/digestive benefits, a source for increasing energy and relief of menopausal symptoms. Since the inception of a health claim for soy protein in October 1999, significantly more Americans (35 percent) are aware that consuming 25 grams of soy protein per day reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.

“Consumers are taking advantage of the health benefits from soy. And the United Soybean Board continues to support new ways for Americans to consume soy products,” says Kent Gronlie, North Dakota soybean farmer and chair of the United Soybean Board Edible Products Subcommittee. “Increasingly, we are seeing soy integrated in mainstream food products. We fully expect this trend to continue.”

The number of Americans altering their eating habits to include soy products one or more times each week is growing — 27 percent in 2000. The top products that consumers are aware of are tofu, soy veggie burgers and soy beverages. Consumers are also familiar with soybean oil, soy infant formula, soy protein bars and other soy supplements. For the second year in a row, consumers consider soybean oil to be the healthiest of all cooking oils.

Americans (87 percent) are concerned about the nutritional content of food. This percentage has remained consistent since 1997, ranging from 86 to 89 percent. This consistency indicates that Americans remain aware of and are concerned about the nutritional content of their food.

An independent research firm conducted the USB survey among consumers. The study’s margin of error is 3.5 percent and has a confidence level of 95 percent.

The United Soybean Board was created by the 1990 Farm Bill to manage and direct the soybean checkoff, a fund of farmer contributions dedicated to spreading knowledge and understanding of the soybean. USB is comprised of 62 volunteer soybean farmers representing the interests of fellow growers nationwide. Each board member is appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.