“If you’re worried about high blood pressure, a new systematic review of scientific evidence has good news: Changing your diet really can make a difference,” according to a recent article in the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.
Soy protein is best known for its ability to lower elevated blood levels of cholesterol. In recognition of this ability in 1999, the FDA awarded soyfoods a health claim for reducing risk of coronary heart disease. Less well known is that soy protein may also lower blood pressure. Blood pressure is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease.
More than a decade ago a commentary in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggested soy protein could be the next “anti-hypertensive” agent. This commentary was written in response to a clinical study that found soy protein lowered systolic blood pressure (top number) by more than 4 points and diastolic blood pressure by almost 3 points. Since that study was published several statistical analyses of the clinical studies have been published all of which confirm that indeed soy protein lowers blood pressure. The largest analysis included 27 clinical trials. In theory, over time the reduction in blood pressure in response to soy protein could reduce of stroke, heart attack and overall mortality by 4 to 10%.
Of course, although to dramatically lower blood pressure by making dietary changes requires adopting a comprehensive approach but the evidence is clear that soy protein should be part of that overall mix. In addition to soy protein, that mix should include lots of fruits and vegetables and foods that are low in sodium. Fortunately, soy protein is easy to incorporate into the diet. Foods such as tofu, soynuts, edamame and soy burgers are all rich sources of soy protein.