Caviar, truffles, oysters, asparagus, chocolate, tofu . . . Okay, we have to admit that when it comes to the traditional foods of romance, soyfoods aren’t usually on the list. Maybe they should be, though. Not only do they marry well with chocolate, when it comes to matters of the heart, soyfoods may help protect against heart disease. That’s why they’re ideal for those meals you prepare for your special one on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year. The Soyfoods Council can help you plan your menu for romantic celebrations with a variety of chocolate and soy recipe ideas….
This fall, you and your family can experience the flavors of the world with healthful, globally inspired soup recipes from The Soyfoods Council. These contemporary ideas not only encourage consumption of more vegetables and legumes, they also provide heart-healthy protein from soyfoods. More than a decade ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a health claim for soyfoods based on their cholesterol-lowering effects. Soyfoods also are low in saturated fats. Perhaps best of all, though, soyfoods are versatile and convenient ingredients for quick soups or slowly simmered specialties….
Low saturated fat diets have been recommended as a means of reducing blood cholesterol levels for decades. However, for many years it has also been recognized that reducing the saturated fat content of the diet alone isn’t sufficient to markedly lower blood cholesterol levels. To this point, since 2002, Dr. David Jenkins of the University of Toronto and his colleagues have published a series of studies showing that the combination of cholesterol-lowering foods called the portfolio diet lowers cholesterol to a much greater extent than any single food. Not surprisingly, soyfoods have been an integral part of this combination since they are low in saturated fat and soy protein itself lowers blood cholesterol levels. Subjects following the test diet are instructed to consume 22 grams of soy protein from soymilk, tofu and soy meat analogues per 1000 calories or about 35 grams per participant. Other components of the portfolio diet included nuts, soluble fiber and phytosterols.
In the latest study from this group of researchers, 300 men and women with elevated cholesterol consumed either a low saturated fat control diet, or the portfolio diet. Those following the portfolio diet received either two or seven counseling sessions during the trial period.. These sessions were aimed at helping the participants consume the appropriate foods.
At the end of the study, LDL-cholesterol decreased by only 3 percent in the control group. In contrast, LDL-cholesterol decreased by 13 percent in subjects following the portfolio diet. The results not only confirm that a combination of cholesterol-lowering foods is superior to a low saturated fat diet alone, but also that only two counseling sessions are needed for maximum benefit. Since estimates are that a one percent reduction in cholesterol can lower heart disease risk by as much as two percent over time, adopting the portfolio diet can theoretically reduce risk of heart disease by 25 percent. The added benefit to the portfolio diet is that the foods that make up this way of eating, such as soy, are thought to be protective against other chronic diseases as well.
Jenkins DJ, Jones PJ, Lamarche B, Kendall CW, Faulkner D, Cermakova L, Gigleux I, Ramprasath V, de Souza R, et al. Effect of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods given at 2 levels of intensity of dietary advice on serum lipids in hyperlipidemia: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2011; 306: 831-9.
Studies suggest that soy protein helps to lower blood cholesterol, and in 1999, the Food and Drug Administration approved a health claim for soyfoods and heart disease based on this effect. Soyfoods are also low in saturated fat making them a good choice in heart healthy diets. But elevated cholesterol is just one of several risk factors for coronary heart disease. An equally if not more important one is elevated blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure affects about 74 million Americans or about one in three adults, and the drugs available to treat this condition aren’t nearly as effective as the drugs used to treat elevated cholesterol.
Two groups of researchers recently conducted evaluations of studies on the effects of soyfoods on blood pressure. They each conducted a meta-analysis, a commonly used statistical approach that combines a large number of studies for the purpose of integrating the findings. In the first analysis, Chinese researchers analyzed the results from 11 studies and found that soy lowered systolic blood pressure by 2.5 points and diastolic blood pressure by 1.5 points. The second analysis included 27 different studies and showed similar results. Soy lowered systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 2.2 and 1.4 points, respectively. Although these reductions may seem small, they are meaningful. It is estimated that decreases of this magnitude can lower risk of stroke, coronary heart disease and mortality by 10, 5, and 4%, respectively. When combined with the other coronary benefits of soyfoods, it is clear that adding soyfoods to your diet is a good way to protect yourself against cardiovascular disease.
Liu XX, Li SH, Chen JZ, Sun K, Wang XJ, Wang XG, Hui RT. Effect of soy isoflavones on blood pressure: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011.
Dong JY, Tong X, Wu ZW, Xun PC, He K, Qin LQ. Effect of soya protein on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br. J. Nutr. 2011, 1-10.