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Increased consumption of soy protein may lower cholesterol.

Here's another reason for technologists to consider adding soy to their products when possible. People with total cholesterol levels exceeding 240 could benefit substantially by eating 25 to 50 grams (g) of soy protein daily, according to a scientific advisory directed to health-care professionals. There is increasing evidence that consumption of soy protein may help lower blood cholesterol levels in some people with elevated cholesterol levels, and it may provide other cardiovascular benefits, according to researchers at the University of Illinois (Department of Nutrition, 580 Bevier Hall, 905 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, IL 61801) who wrote the advisory for the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows producers to claim health benefits on foods containing 6.5 g of soy protein and suggests four servings, or 25 g, daily. Scientists cited 38 clinical studies and concluded that consuming between 25 g to 50 g per day is both safe and effective in reducing the bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by up to 8%.

When foods containing intact soy protein were substituted in studies for animal protein, researchers told us, they significantly lowered blood levels of total cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and they actually increased the levels of the good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol by 2.4% or more.

People with total cholesterol profiles of under 200, a count considered normal, will gain little in terms of lowering cholesterol, the advisory noted. However, they may receive cardiovascular benefits that appear to come from the isoflavones in soy. Such consumption, in place of some animal or milk protein, also would reduce a person's intake of cholesterol and fat.

Consumers with high cholesterol levels should look for products that provide 10 g of soy protein per serving and eat two to three servings per day. Studies at the university have consistently shown that 20 g of soy protein a day can significantly lower total cholesterol levels.

Among the components of soy protein that may contribute to its cholesterol-lowering ability are trypsin inhibitors, phytic acid, sapopins, isoflavones and fiber. Soy protein is available as a liquid, flour or concentrated powder. It's important that all of these components be left intact during processing. Otherwise, the benefits may be diminished or lost.

Further information. John Erdman; phone: 217-333-2527; fax: 217-333-9368; email:
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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Jan 1, 2001
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