Surprisingly, this chapter is not going to try to persuade you to eat more soy foods. Eating more soy foods is a fine thing to do, but it is not a practical way to get sufficient soy isoflavones into your diet. It just isn’t realistic to tell Americans to eat a lot of tofu (a highly refined food anyway), tempeh, annato, seitan, soy sauce, soy flour, soy sprouts, boiled soybeans, soy cheese, and soy milk. You could drink an eight ounce glass of soymilk every day, but that would add 120 unneeded calories every day. (This would come to 44,000 unneeded calories a year.) It’s better to use it for your cold cereal and in cooking than as a beverage.
The two main isoflavones we are concerned about are genestein and daidzein. These are not “phytoestrogens” as you have been told endlessly. They are, in fact, flavones and completely unrelated to estrogen or any other hormone. Flavones are plant pigment flavonoids, while estrogens are steroids secreted by the endocrine (ductless) glands in animals. There are countless studies on the benefits of isoflavones for most every medical condition, and new ones appear in the journals every week. We are going to look at some of the most impressive human studies that show value in improving blood lipid profiles.
There are many other reasons to take isoflavones and this should be a basic part of your supplement program. You need about 40 mg a day, so read the label on your supplement carefully to see that you are getting a total of at least this much of combined genestein and daidzein.
At the Panum Institute in Copenhagen (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition v. 69, 1999) people were given soy protein which lowered their LDL levels while raising their HDL levels in only six weeks with no change in diet or exercise.
At Baylor College in Houston (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition v. 68 Supp, 1998) subjects were given soy protein which, again, lowered their LDL levels while raising their HDL levels in only five weeks. It was interesting to note that in this study both normal people and patients with high cholesterol levels were included, and both benefited significantly. It is difficult to get people with normal levels to reduce them even further. Even better results were obtained when the soy supplement was used with the National Cholesterol Education Program Diet, which emphasizes low fat, high fiber and complex carbohydrates.
At St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto (Metabolism & Clinical Experiments v. 48, 1999) men and women were given a low fat diet with added soy protein. Researchers found the soy supplement very much strengthened the effects of the low fat diet. In their words, “A combination of vegetable protein and soluble fiber significantly improved the lipid-lowering effect of a low saturated fat diet.”
At the University of Illinois (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition v. 68 Supp, 1998) postmenopausal women were given soy isoflavones, which lowered their TC levels while raising their HDL levels and lowering their LDL levels. This was a very well done and professional study. In addition to improving blood lipid levels they found that some of the women increased their bone density and actually reversed some of the effects of osteoporosis This is just one more way to avoid the many problems of menopause.
A second study at the University of Illinois (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, v. 71, 2000) studied men of widely varying ages with hypercholesterolemia. They gave them soy supplements without any changes in diet or exercise. These men lowered their cholesterol levels significantly in only six weeks.
A Japanese journal (Daizu Tanakushitsu v. 13, 1992) published a series of articles on soy protein and blood lipids in men and women. These studies were done at Nagoya, Kyushu, Tokai, Tokushima University, and the National Defense Medical College. These studies used different diets and different conditions while giving soy supplements to varying subjects. At all five institutions the conclusions were basically in agreement that modest soy supplementation lowered cholesterol levels and improved the HDL/LDL ratios significantly in a short period of time.
At the Dunn Nutrition Center in England (British Journal of Nutritrion v. 74, 1995) premenopausal women were studied in depth for a full nine months. Of course their cholesterol levels improved when they were fed soy supplements containing isoflavones, but they found other very positive benefits to their health as well. Their hormonal metabolism improved generally, and their menstrual cycles became more regular and less problematic. This was a very unique long term study that shows there are more benefits to soy isoflavones still to be discovered.
The American Heart Nutrition Committee (Circulation, December 2000) advised Americans with high cholesterol to add soy protein to their diets. Dr. Erdman at the AHNC said that numerous studies show that soy isoflavones lower LDL, raise HDL, lower TG and lower TC levels. Endorsements from such prestigious groups as this should be heeded.
At Wake Forest University in North Carolina (Archives of Internal Medicine v. 159, 1999) doctors studied the effects of soy isoflavones on men and women with high cholesterol levels. By giving them a daily supplement over just a two month period they successfully lowered their LDL levels thereby improving their LDL/ HDL ratios. They also lowered their total cholesterol. This study was extremely professional and very well done.
The Harvard Medical School publishes “The Heart Letter”, which is a very well done monthly report on the studies regarding cures for heart and circulatory problems. In the October 2000 issue they said that studies overwhelmingly prove adding soy to the diet lowers cholesterol, and thereby lowers the risk of heart and artery disease. They went on to say that soy supplements make the blood vessels more elastic, and can actually lower systolic (the more important of the two readings) blood pressure. Basic lifestyle changes are usually the only way to lower blood pressure at all, so this is most impressive.
At Wake Forest University again (Menopause v. 5, 1998) healthy, non-hypercholesterolemic, premenopausal women were given a soy supplement with 34 mg of isoflavones in a classic double blind crossover study for six weeks. Not only did they lower their total and LDL cholesterol levels but their systolic blood pressure declined as well. They said, “Soy supplementation in the diet of …women resulted in significant improvements in their lipid and lipoprotein levels, blood pressure and perceived severity of vasomotor symptoms”. Remember these were healthy women who further improved their heart and artery health.
We could go on with study after study on real people given soy isoflavone supplements in clinics around the world, but you see these benefits are established clearly in the medical field. Soy isoflavones improve our blood profiles significantly, improve the quality of our arteries, and are even shown to lower blood pressure. All of these effects can be obtained without any change in diet or exercise. When combined with other proven supplements, a low fat diet and reasonable exercise (such as walking) the effects are even more dramatic.
It has become popular in certain circles, on the Internet, and from some misguided self-appointed experts to talk about the supposed “dangers” of eating soy foods. This misinformation has become rather popular despite the fact there are never any valid references to verify their claims of “dangerous side effects” from eating soy foods and taking soy supplements. All of the propaganda comes from the meat and dairy industry. It should be obvious that the billions of Asian people who have eaten soy foods as a basic part of their diets for centuries never suffer these illusory “side effects”. You can see from the many clinical studies that there are never negative side effects from the patients taking these supplements. We have only discussed the benefits of soy isoflavones for blood lipids basically. Entire books have been written about the benefits of soy isoflavones for many other conditions. In fact, new studies are published constantly and new benefits are discovered all the time. People are becoming aware that the real dangers lie in milk and milk products, and the real benefits are found in soy products. All adults of all races are lactose (milk sugar) intolerant. Milk and dairy consumption is down more every year especially among African and Asian people who are most lactose intolerant. Now grocery stores carry more and more soy milk, soy cheese, soy yogurt, soy cream cheese, soy “meats”, various forms of tofu, and other soy products all the time. The dairy interests are understandably upset about so many people switching from dairy products to soy products and are the ones promoting the disinformation campaign about soy foods. Please realize this propaganda is from the meat and dairy corporations and not from real scientists.
This is excerpted from the book Lower Cholesterol Without Drugs by Roger Mason. You can purchase a quality soy isoflavone supplement from www.youngagain.com
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