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Table of Contents > Articles > The Power of Soy Protein: The FDA ...
The Power of Soy Protein: The FDA Acknowledges the Bean's Benefits to the Heart

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 menopause.

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 down.

The bottom line: to enjoy the cholesterol-lowering benefits of soy, consider adding more soy protein food products to your diet.


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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. 1994;124(2):213-222.

Food and Drug Administration. Food labeling: health claims; soy protein and coronary heart disease. Federal Register. November 10, 1998;63(217):62977-63015.

Food and Drug Administration. FDA approves new health claim for soy protein and coronary heart disease. Available at Accessed on October 24, 1999.

Protein Technologies International. FDA Health Claim for Soy. Available at Accessed on on April 13, 2000.

U.S. Soyfoods Directory Web site. Available at Accessed on November 9, 1999.

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

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.

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