Review of clinical studies on cholesterol-lowering response to soy protein

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Date: July 1991
Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers
Document Type: Article
Length: 7,878 words

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Abstract :

It is well established that high levels of cholesterol in the blood increase the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart disease. Many studies have examined the ability of different dietary sources of fiber, protein, and unsaturated fat to reduce blood cholesterol levels. The first studies examining the ability of protein to lower blood cholesterol were performed in the 1940s. These studies showed that a diet containing 38 percent protein, in the form of casein (a major protein found in cow milk), caused atherosclerosis in rabbits. However, when soybean flour (which is 50 percent protein) was substituted for casein the rabbits did not develop atherosclerosis. Studies performed in humans have shown that substituting soy protein for animal protein in the diet can lower blood levels of total cholesterol, low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides (fatty acids) among those with hypercholesteremia (high blood cholesterol), but it has little effect in those with normal blood cholesterol levels. Diets high in protein and low in fat have been able to reduce blood cholesterol by 20 percent or more. Soy protein does not alter blood levels of high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol; higher levels of this type of cholesterol are considered beneficial. The effect of soy protein on blood cholesterol is similar in men and women, but may be greater in younger than in older people. It is not known how soy protein lowers blood cholesterol. However, substituting soybean protein for animal protein in the diet may be an effective method for reducing blood cholesterol levels. (Consumer Summary produced by Reliance Medical Information, Inc.)

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A11120318