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Soy lowers cholesterol

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By David Liu, Ph.D.

Wednesday Aug 24, 2011 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new study published recently in JAMA suggests a diet full of cholesterol-lowering foods such as soybean, nuts and plant-derived sterols may be used to lower cholesterol.

The study led by David J. A. Jenkins, MD of the University of Toronto and colleagues showed eating a cholesterol lowering diet for six months lowered the low density cholesterol or bad cholesterol by about 14 percent, compared to controls.

The cholesterol lowering diet was found more effective than a low saturated fat diet, which is often recommended for cholesterol management.

This is not the first study to show soybean foods can lower bad cholesterol, which is considered a major risk factor for coronary heart disease.

J.W. Anderson and H.M. Bush of University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky reported in the April 2011 issue of Journal of the American College of Nutrition that soy protein is effective in not only lowering bad cholesterol, but also increasing good cholesterol or high density lipoprotein.

They analysed data pulled from 43 studies published from 1996 through 2008. Subjects in these studies ate no more than 65 grams of soy and cholesterol was measured after 3 to 18 weeks.

In 20 so-called parallel-design studies, the average reduction in bad cholesterol was 5.5 percent in those eating soy compared to those who did not eat soy while in 23 crossover studies, the average reduction was 4.2 percent.

Further, eating soy protein was found in parallel studies to increase good cholesterol by 3.2 percent compared to eating no soy.  In the soy eaters, fasting serum triacylglycerol dropped 10.7 percent, compared to the non-eaters.

The researchers concluded that consuming an average of 30 grams per day of soy protein significantly improves lipoprotein risk factors for coronary heat disease.

Should food consumers rush to eat lots of soybean foods like soy milk and tufu to lower cholesterol?   Some studies suggest that GM soy may not be safe as thought and about 75% of soy crops in the U.S. are genetically modified.

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