American Heart Association no longer recommends Soy for Heart Disease

Written by
Published in April 2006

soy benefits heart cholesterol AHA( The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality analyzed various studies in 2005 and found that soy only had a modest effect on cholesterol levels. They found that eating a high amount of soy protein only caused a 3% reduction in LDL cholesterol levels and had no effect on HDL cholesterol.  Other analysis found no benefits of soy isoflavones (active soy ingredients) on LDL, HDL or triglycerides.

History of Soy Recommendation

The cholesterol lowering effect of soy and its role in heart disease was widely recognized in the mid 90s when the results of a meta-analysis of 38 clinical studies were published. The results demonstrated that a diet with significant soy protein reduces Total Cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (the "Bad" cholesterol) and Triglycerides. This confirmed the benefits of soy in heart disease management. As a result of these findings, in 1999, the FDA authorized a health claim about the relationship between soy protein and Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) on labeling of foods containing soy protein.

Soy - What should we do now?

Based on the recent studies, the American Heart Association (AHA) Nutrition Committee no longer recommends eating soy to lower cholesterol. However, as soy products contain high levels of polyunsaturated fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals and low levels of saturated fat, AHA does consider soy products a healthy replacement for meats and other foods high in saturated fat and total fat.

Enjoy your soy foods like before. It may not lower cholesterol to an extent we had originally thought, but it certainly does not harm our health!

Available Soy Products:

  • Calcium-fortified soy milk
  • Tofu
  • Soy nuts
  • Edamame
  • Tempeh
  • Miso
  • Other products such as soy patties, soy cheese, soy yogurt and breakfast cereal

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