|The Power of Soy Protein: The FDA Acknowledges the Bean's Benefits to
Recently the FDA ruled that manufacturers of soy protein products can claim
on their product labels that 25 grams per day of soy protein, as part of a diet
low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.
The FDA's ruling is based on studies that have shown that adding soy to your
diet can lower your cholesterol. The FDA reviewed about 40 studies that were
published between 1976 and 1999. In one study, a research team analyzed the
results of 38 clinical trials on soy's effects on cholesterol levels in both men
and women. Overall, decreases in the total cholesterol levels of the
participants were observed in 34 out of the 38 studies. On average, the
participants had consumed 46 grams of soy protein each day. In another trial, 20
grams per day of soy protein reduced cholesterol levels in women nearing
If you look on the shelves of your health food store or supermarket in search
of soy protein products, you'll see everything from veggie burgers to food bars
to powdered soy protein beverages. However, not all soy protein products contain
the same amount of protein. Whole soybeans have approximately 38 percent. Based
on the manufacturing processes used, the products derived from soybeans differ
significantly. For example, soy protein isolate (added to many soy food
products, such as sausage soy patties or soybean burgers) has about 92 percent
protein; soy flour has about 50 percent. Tofu, however, has only about 16
percent protein (unless, of course, soy protein isolate has been added to it).
The best way to find out about protein content is to look on the product's
Nutrition Facts label to see what the percentage of soy protein is. Also look at
the list of ingredients: if a product contains isolated soy protein (or soy
protein isolate), the protein content should be fairly high. The new
FDA-approved health claim, appearing more and more on soy products, will also
indicate how many grams of soy protein are in one serving of that product.
Note: There's a difference between soy supplements (commonly sold in tablets
or capsules) and soy protein products. Soy supplements are generally composed of
concentrated soy isoflavones. While soy isoflavones may be helpful in treating
symptoms of menopause (isoflavones behave similarly to estrogen), there is not
enough evidence to support using soy isoflavones to keep cholesterol levels
The bottom line: to enjoy the cholesterol-lowering benefits of soy,
consider adding more soy protein food products to your diet.
Anderson JW, Johnstone BM, Cook-Newell ME. Meta-analysis of the effects of
soy protein intake on serum lipids. N Engl J Med.
Bakhit RM, Klein BP, Essex-Sorlie D, Ham JO, Erdman JW Jr., Potter SM. Intake
of 25g of soybean protein with or without soybean fiber alters plasma lipids in
men with elevated cholesterol concentrations. J Nutr.
Food and Drug Administration. Food labeling: health claims; soy protein and
coronary heart disease. Federal Register. November 10,
Food and Drug Administration. FDA approves new health claim for soy protein
and coronary heart disease. Available at
www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/ANSWERS/ANS00980.html. Accessed on October 24, 1999.
Protein Technologies International. FDA Health Claim for Soy. Available at
www.protein.com/healthclaim.nsf/pages/soy_protein. Accessed on on April 13,
U.S. Soyfoods Directory Web site. Available at
soyfoods.com/nutrition/isoflavoneconcentration.html. Accessed on November 9,
Washburn S, Burke GL, Morgan T, Anthony M. Effect of soy protein
supplementation on serum lipoproteins, blood pressure, and menopausal symptoms
in perimenopausal women. Menopause. 1999;6(1):7-13.
|Review Date: April 2000|
|Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial|
Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc
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