The vast majority of Americans continue to view food made with soy ingredients as healthy, according to a survey conducted by the United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff.

The annual Consumer Attitudes about Nutrition survey shows 81 percent of consumers see soy as healthy. Just 5 percent view them as unhealthy.

The checkoff conducts this survey to educate health professionals and the food industry on the nutritional benefits of soy. The food industry is the top customer for U.S. soybean oil, using more than 80 percent of the domestic supply.

“I’m very pleased that American consumers have such a high opinion of the health benefits of soy,” says Nancy Kavazanjian, a soybean farmer from Beaver Dam, Wis., and farmer-leader who serves on USB’s domestic marketing progam. “And soon they’re going to see even more.”

“For example, we’re helping to develop oils that will allow food companies to eliminate trans fats in their products, lower saturated fat and add positive nutritional elements such as omega-3 fatty acids,” adds Kavazanjian.

Four out of five survey respondents view omega-3 fatty acids as very or somewhat healthy. That’s the same proportion that viewed trans fats to be “bad for you,” a significant jump over last year’s survey when just over half of the respondents gave that reply about trans fats.

The soybean-checkoff-funded research also showed that more than a quarter of consumers seek out products specifically because they contain soy and more than a third know about soy’s many health benefits.

On their own, survey respondents identify soy as heart-healthy, a source of protein and low in fat. They also cited soy’s ability to regulate hormones, benefit women’s health and lower cholesterol.

The number of people who often consume soy is on the rise, while the number of those who say they’ve never tried soy continues to drop. The 37 percent who consume soy-based foods or beverages at least once a month is five points higher than in 2008, while the 33 percent who have never tried soyfoods has dropped 10 points since 2006.

The study, administered online by an independent research firm in January, includes 1,000 random surveys, providing a sample consistent with the total U.S. population. The study’s margin of error remains +/- 1.9-3.1 percent, with a confidence interval of 95 percent.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit us at www.UnitedSoybean.org.