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Soy intake and cholesterol levels

OXFORD, UNITED KINGDOM. Several studies have shown that women with a high intake of soy protein have a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Other studies have shown that a reduction in plasma cholesterol level of 1.0 mmol/L (39 mg/dL) corresponds to a 21% reduction in the risk of coronary artery disease.

Now researchers at the University of Oxford report that women with a moderate intake of soy protein have lower levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) than do women with a low or zero intake. Their study included 1033 pre- and post-menopausal women, 361 of whom were non-vegetarians, 570 were vegetarians (no meat or fish, but did consume dairy products and eggs), and 102 vegans (no animal products at all). The women enrolled in the study during 1995 and 1996 at which time they provided blood samples and completed a 130-item food frequency questionnaire.

The researchers found that women who consumed enough soy products (soy milk, tofu, soy meat, textured vegetable protein, and veggie burgers) to obtains 6.0 grams/day or more (average of 11.2 grams/day) of soy protein had an average 7.5% lower total cholesterol concentration than did women whose intake of soy protein was less than 0.5 grams/day. The LDL concentration was found to be 12.4% lower and the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol (the good kind) was 9.0% lower. The concentration of HDL cholesterol was not affected by soy intake. The researchers conclude that moderate intakes of soy protein are associated with favourable changes to cholesterol concentrations in pre- and post-menopausal women.
Rosell, MS, et al. Soy intake and blood cholesterol concentrations: a cross-sectional study of 1033 pre- and postmenopausal women in the Oxford arm of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 80, November 2004, pp. 1391-96

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