Soy Plays Important Role in an Overall Healthy Diet

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Soy and Diet

Low in saturated fat, soyfoods provide dietary fiber, high-quality protein and key vitamins and minerals

Media coverage of a recent statement by the American Heart Association failed to note that soy protein could reduce coronary heart disease (CHD) at a level that would positively affect the nation's public health, according to experts at the global Soy Nutrition Institute.

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According to Dr. Mark Messina, adjunct associate professor and internationally recognized expert on the health effects of soyfoods, sufficient amounts of soy protein could potentially reduce CHD at the population level by as much as 10 percent.

"Soy protein alone is certainly not going to bring cholesterol levels down to the target goal in hypercholesterolemics (people with high blood cholesterol), but soy's modest cholesterol lowering effect by itself is beneficial. Plus, soyfoods are a good substitution for foods higher in saturated fat, which helps consumers follow an overall heart-healthy diet," says Messina.

In fact, the AHA Nutrition Committee noted that soy products such as tofu, soy butter, soy nuts and soy burgers should be beneficial to cardiovascular and overall health. The report concludes soyfoods should be considered beneficial because of their high content of polyunsaturated fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals and their low content of saturated fat and cholesterol. Additionally, soyfoods can substitute for other foods that are known to contribute to blood cholesterol levels.

The AHA's recent advisory statement on Soy Protein, Isoflavones and Cardiovascular Health has focused media attention on the modest effects of soy protein in lowering cholesterol levels in individuals.

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