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Study: Soy protein shows promise for preventing heart disease in women

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Soy protein shows some promise for keeping arteries clean and free from plaque in postmenopausal women. Researchers found soy protein might help prevent clogged arteries in healthy women when soy protein is introduced into the diet soon after menopause.

Heart disease is a concern for women after menopause because of estrogen decline.

Howard N. Hodis, MD, USC Keck School of Medicine and lead author of the study, published in the November issue of the journal Stroke said,

"The literature demonstrates that there is a 'window of opportunity' of a potential beneficial effect on coronary heart disease for products that bind to the estrogen receptor including hormone-replacement therapy, soybean isoflavones or selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) when initiated in women within 5-6 years of menopause."

The study, which is the longest and largest showing soy protein could help prevent clogged arteries from fatty deposits in the arteries, compared postmenopausal women given soy protein to those given placebo. The research was performed from 2004 to 2009 and included 350 postmenopausal women aged 45-92 years of age in the Los Angeles area.

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None of the women had heart disease or diabetes. For the study, the women consumed nutrition bars from Solae, LLC.

Elaine Krul, PhD, nutrition discovery lead, Solae said "The high compliance suggests that the clinical study products provided by Solae were very palatable and were not associated with any significant adverse effects as confirmed by the data, "an important note for women who think they might not enjoy soy products.

The women in the study received 25 g soy protein containing 91 mg aglycon isoflavone equivalents or placebo for 2.7 years in two evenly divided daily doses.

The finding shows young healthy women who consume soy protein within 5 years after menopause could have lower chance of progressive coronary disease that can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Soy is also known to promote healthy cholesterol levels.

More studies are needed to confirm the benefits of soy protein for preventing heart disease in women. The research shows soy protein may be cardioprotective for healthy postmenopausal women who consume products within 5 years of menopause.

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