Study shows a diet high in soy protein lowers cholesterol. Soy protein can be an important addition to a diet to lower cholesterol, according to new findings from a study conducted at the Children’s Nutrition Research Center in Houston, Texas.
The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, may also explain why previous studies have produced conflicting evidence concerning the merits of soy protein.
The researchers suggested that previous studies finding little benefit from soy may not have included a “washout period” or adequately monitored subjects’ diets. The men in this study ate only pre-packaged meals prepared at the center.
Results from the study suggest soy protein can enhance the effects of a diet designed to lower cholesterol. These effects apply to men whose levels are in the safe cholesterol range and also those above it.
The study involved 26 men, 20 to 50 years of age, half of whom had high cholesterol. All the men went on the National Cholesterol Education Program’s Step I diet to lower their cholesterol – but with a special twist. Half of the subjects were getting their protein from soy; half from meat.
After a 10-to-15 week “washout” period, the two groups swapped diets; those receiving their protein from soy switched to meat, and vice versa.
While both groups of men experienced improved blood cholesterol on both diets, those receiving soy improved more than those receiving meat protein, regardless of age or weight.
Men with cholesterol problems who went on the meat-protein diet dropped their LDL- cholesterol 8 percent, but their LDL-cholesterol dropped 13 percent on the soy-protein version. The percentage for men with “safe” LDL-cholesterol levels was smaller – 5 percent for meat and 11 percent for soy.
The Children’s Nutrition Research Center is jointly managed by the Agricultural Research Service, the chief research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Baylor College of Medicine.
Source: Jill Lee, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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