High Cholesterol? Eat More Soy!

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High Cholesterol? Eat More Soy!

Reed MAngels

Readers of Vegetarian Journal are touting the benefits of soy products. The general public is now becoming aware of soy's benefits. The results of a recent study made headlines in mainstream publications. James W. Anderson, M.D. and colleagues combined data from 38 earlier studies and concluded that use of soy protein in place of animal protein significantly decreased blood levels of cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.

On average, serum cholesterol decreased 23.2 mg/dl (9.3%) when soy protein was substituted for animal protein. LDL cholesterol decreased 12.9% and serum triglycerides decreased 10.5%. The greatest decreases were seen in subjects with the highest blood cholesterol levels. Their cholesterol decreased 19.6%. Since for every 1% reduction in serum cholesterol, the risk of heart disease decreases 2%, substitution of soy protein for animal protein could potentially reduce risk of heart disease by 18%.

The researchers conclude that eating about 1 to 11/2 ounces (31 to 47 grams) of soy protein daily in place of animal protein can significantly decrease blood cholesterol levels. Good sources of soy protein include soy milk (4 to 10 grams in 8 ounces), tofu (8 to 13 grams in 4 ounces), textured soy protein (11 grams in 1/2 cup), and tempeh (16 grams in 1/2 cup).

Dietitians and physicians are being encouraged to promote use of soy protein as part of the control of high blood cholesterol levels.

Anderson JW, Johnstone BM, Cook-Newell ME. Meta-analysis of the effects of soy protein intake on serum lipids. N Engl J Med 1995; 333:276-82.
Erdman JW, Jr. Control off serum lipids with soy protein. N Engl J Med 1995; 333:313-15.

The Vegetarian Resource Group, Inc.

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By Reed Mangels

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