Sunday, January 22, 2006

Soy lowers cholesterol? Not so fast.

An American Heart Association committee reviewed a decade of studies on soy's benefits and came up with results that are now casting doubt on the health claim that soy-based foods and supplements significantly lower cholesterol.

The committee members reviewed 22 studies and found that large amounts of dietary soy protein only reduced LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, about 3 percent and had no effect on HDL, or "good" cholesterol, or on blood pressure.

The findings could lead the Food and Drug Administration to re-evaluate rules that currently allow companies to tout a cholestorol-lowering benefit on the labels of soy-based food. Nutrition experts say soy-based foods still are good because they often are eaten in place of less healthy fare like burgers and hot dogs.

Still, the Heart Association statement notes that soy products like tofu, soy butter, soy nuts and some soy burgers should be heart-healthy because they contain a lot of polyunsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals and are low in saturated fat.

Hey, I'll eat the tofu anyway, if dinner looks like the one pictured. Besides, reducing heart disease risk is not just about lowering cholesterol. It's also about oxidized cholesterol, and beans, like soy, have antoxidants to help block LDL oxidation.

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