Increasing evidence supports the use of soy products to lower blood cholesterol, a new heart-health publication edited by cardiologists reports.
Heart and Health Reports cited a summary of 38 recent studies of the effect of soy on cholesterol: “This summary found that an average intake of 46 grams of soy protein per day reduced total cholesterol by an average of 9 percent, LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol by l3 percent, and triglycerides by 11 percent,” the publication said.
Patients who had the highest cholesterol to start with had the greatest cholesterol-lowering benefit from soy, with some studies showing that soy raised HDL, or “good” cholesterol.
“When we talk about the benefits of soy, we are referring to soy isoflavones and soy protein,” nutritionist Stefanie Schwartz wrote in Heart and Health Reports.
“Soy isoflavones are natural plant estrogens, the unique substances thought to be largely responsible for soy’s cholesterol-lowering powers,” she said. “It is important to combine soy isoflavones with soy protein, because cholesterol may not be lowered when these substances are taken alone … It’s best to eat soy protein and soy isoflavones together as they naturally occur in soy-based foods.”
Schwartz recommended a diet of 25 grams of soy protein with 50 to 60 milligrams of isoflavones daily. Such a diet not only should help prevent heart disease, she said, but also may be advantageous to “lower your cholesterol, keep your arteries elastic, inhibit LDL cholesterol from oxidizing, and help prevent menopausal hot flashes and osteoporosis.”
Heart and Health Reports is published in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., and is edited by three New York medical doctors — Dr. Franklin H. Zimmerman, assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University; Dr. Arthur E. Fass, chief of cardiology at Phelps Memorial Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., and Dr.Dina R. Katz, attending cardiologist at Westchester Medical Center.