News on Soy Health Claim

Sharon Palmer

I get so many questions on soy and health, so I wanted to bring you the latest news on what’s going on with the Weston A. Price Foundation court case against the FDA. June 30 is the deadline by which the FDA must review the totality of publicly available evidence and make a determination if there continues to be significant scientific agreement about the soy protein and risk of coronary heart disease health claim: “25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

Soy and Heart Health 

One out of every three adults has high cholesterol, according to the CDC. Having high cholesterol puts you at risk of developing heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. About half of all Americans have at least one risk factor for developing this serious condition. Soy is the only protein approved by the FDA to help lower your cholesterol.

Soy protein not only lowers blood cholesterol, but has been found to contribute to increasing good cholesterol (HDL) and lowering triglyceride levels. Eating foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol are important components to a healthy lifestyle. Soyfoods naturally contain no cholesterol, protect against heart disease and taste great. Exciting new studies indicate that soyfoods show promise for a wide variety of benefits – from boosting mental ability to protecting against bone loss and some types of cancer.

Results of the latest research on soy protein and cholesterol can have a significant impact in lowering heart disease risk because every 1 percent reduction in blood cholesterol reduces heart disease mortality by 2 percent.

Soy Remains the Only “Heart Healthy” Protein, According to FDA 

“Heart Healthy” is a claim regulated by the FDA, and soy protein is the only protein approved for such a claim. After rigorous scientific research and reviews, the FDA said: “25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Here are some great links on the safety and health benefits of soy:

Clearing Up Confusions Over Soy Fact Sheet   from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Safety of Soyfoods Fact Sheet   from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Protein Chart   and Food Ideas
• Soy Benefits for   Women’s Health  and   Men’s Health

The Latest Research on Soy and Health (from 2014-2016) 

We have known for some time that soy protein helps lower cholesterol. But a 2015   meta-analysis   showed soy significantly lowered LDL-cholesterol by 4.8 percent and lowered triglycerides by 4.9 percent, with even greater impact for people who were diabetic or hypertensive – reducing LDL-cholesterol by 7.5 percent.

We also found out   why   soy helps lower cholesterol in 2015. Researchers from the University of Milan treated hepatic cells of the liver with specific peptides (small strands of amino acids) from soybeans and monitored the reactions. The three peptides were able to interfere with the rate-controlling enzyme in the pathway that produces cholesterol. Specifically, what was witnessed was the soy protein particles activated the pathway of the sterol regulatory element-binding proteins and increased the uptake of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

Research   published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2014 showed that partly replacing meat at meals for four weeks with soy-based meat alternatives and soy nuts boldly demonstrated a 4 percent decrease in total cholesterol and 9 percent decrease in LDL (the bad) cholesterol. That same study also found greater blood sugar stabilization and showed clear advantages for improving insulin sensitivity.

Researchers   in China found overweight and obese adults were able to decrease total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol levels, body weight and body mass index (BMI) after 12 weeks of consuming soy fiber products once a day.

Soy on Your Plate 

I support including whole, minimally processed soy foods in your diet every day, such as soymilk, tofu, tempeh, soybeans, and soynuts. You can find lots of fabulous recipes featuring soy on my website, such as my Tofu Papaya Wraps featured in   Plant-Powered for Life.


Image: Curried Tofu Papaya Wraps, Sharon Palmer, RDN

Note: This information is made available through SANA. 

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