Soy Can Be Good For The Heart

Cardio and Blood |

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in this country. There are many factors that contribute to this alarming statistic.

A major risk factor is high total cholesterol, specifically elevated LDL-cholesterol and low HDL-cholesterol. The LDL-cholesterol called the “bad cholesterol” is responsible for the plaque formation and subsequent hardening of the coronary arteries. Conversely, the HDL-cholesterol referred to as the “good cholesterol” is responsible for clearing the fatty debris in the arteries.

A low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet has been shown to lower the risk of coronary artery disease, but recent scientific research also shows that daily soy protein in the diet can reduce coronary disease. The studies show that 25 grams of soy protein in the diet per day can significantly lower blood cholesterol. The New England Journal of Medicine reviewed 38 studies that confirmed evidence that soy protein lowers total blood cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as increasing HDL-cholesterol. One clinical study observed the effects of isoflavones proved to have a greater effect in lowering cholesterol in postmenopausal women.

The research on soy has been so compelling that the FDA recently approved the use of the health claim that soy protein in combination with a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

The components in soy protein, which appear to produce the favorable effects, are isoflavones or plant estrogens. However, studies have shown that not all soy proteins are equal. Soy protein concentrates, soy supplements and related products typically have a lower isoflavone content, and therefore confer minimal health benefit. The natural soy, isoflavone rich products, such as soybeans, tofu and ground soy products are best.

Natural soy protein products are now widely available. Companies like Boca, Yves and others have made soy burgers, ground round, breakfast foods and more.

Research is now being conducted to evaluate other possible health benefits of soy protein. Soy has been shown to be useful in the treatment of menopausal symptoms and may have protective properties in certain hormone-dependent cancers. More evidence is needed, but in the future, these natural isoflavones could prove to be one of the best dietary discoveries in modern medicine