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What's the Relationship Between Soy and Cholesterol?

Aug 3, 2008
Cholesterol is a non-soluble lipid (fat-like compound) that is transported throughout the blood stream. All living animals have cholesterol in their blood streams. The cholesterol is transported throughout the circulatory system in varying sized lipoproteins.

Good and Bad Cholesterol

Most people have probably heard of HDL and LDL, or good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. In scientific terms, these are actually named low density lipoproteins and high density lipoproteins.

High density lipoproteins are functional in the circulatory system and it's good to have a large number of these when your cholesterol is monitored. Low density lipoproteins levels need to remain low.

It is believed that the most common determinant for cholesterol levels is what we are born with, that it's pre-determined and based upon genetics. However, more recently studies have shown that diet and some smart food choices can also help in controlling cholesterol levels.

Soy Food Studies

One food that has gained recognition for its fight against cardiovascular disease and lowering cholesterol levels is soy foods. In recent years, the American Heart Association and the FDA have both stated that adding soy to your daily diet can help lower cholesterol levels.

Tulane University conducted one study where soy protein was given to patients. The results showed that total cholesterol, more specifically LDL and harmful triglycerides, was reduced in the blood. In order for the FDA to qualify a soy product as a recommended food for reducing cholesterol levels, it must contain at least 6.25 grams of soy protein. That is one-quarter of the recommended daily allowance of 25 grams.

There are many soy products available on the market that fit into the FDA's guidelines. A person could eat plain soybeans or the more popular tofu. Even a nice cold glass of soymilk will meet the criteria.

Soy, Fiber and Lowering Cholesterol

Regardless of your soy food choice, you will never have to worry about cholesterol intake; soybeans in general have no cholesterol. But the main reason that soy foods have been linked to lowering cholesterol levels is their high fiber content.

Soluble fiber, or fiber that can be broken down by the human body, has been linked to lowering cholesterol levels as well as lowering blood sugar levels. Therefore, many people with high risks for both diabetes and cardiovascular disease have decided to add soy foods to their daily diets.

Asian populations have been eating soy foods for over 1000 years and continue to reap the benefits. In fact, it was the low incidence of heart disease in the Asian population that first made the Western world look at their eating patterns.

Studies have shown that Asian populations that eat a diet high in soy, at least 40 to 55 grams of soy protein per day, are at a lower risk for heart disease. Combine these statistics with the evidence collected by several other organizations and it makes sense that soy foods are playing a major role in long-term health for Americans.
About the Author
Dee Overly is a mother and artist who discovered the health benefits of soy milk and now sells a Soymilk Maker at www.SoymilkCrossroads.com. Stop by and pick up your Free Vegetarian Recipe Book and check out the blog.
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