Soy exists in the realm of healing foods. The multi-purpose bean that substitutes for dairy and meat in a rising number of diets around the world is a common subject of health breakthroughs. Some have murky results, some excellent, and some promising. The news on soy and clogged arteries is one of the latter.
A new study in “Stroke” shows that soy protein helps reduce the progression of clogged arteries in women within five years of menopause. It’s the largest study done directly on the effect of soy on atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries).
There appears to be a window of opportunity for women who’ve had menopause for five to six years. Soy can bind to estrogen receptors and actually help clear arteries.
The thickness of artery walls tended to be 16% lower on average in the soy protein group compared to placebo. Soy is high in “isoflavones,” the natural chemicals believed to behind soy’s health powers. The study also found that, in women who had experienced menopause within the past five years, eating soy was linked with a 68% reduction in thickness of artery walls compared to placebo.
The study had what’s called great “compliance,” meaning how closely the patients adhered to the treatment. It suggests that soy protein and isoflavone supplements are both palatable and that neither is linked to adverse effects.
People in the study were healthy and had no previous signs of heart disease. The soy also led to a significant increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol, another great benefit for the cardiovascular system. The study was of high quality, conducted between 2004 and 2009, and included 350 postmenopausal women aged 45 to 92 who did not have either diabetes or heart disease.
It seems that, to help you age healthfully, soy can be a part of anyone’s diet. That goes especially for menopausal women, in spite of a decade of questions surrounding soy’s estrogen link. In the end, it is a legume and it is a powerfully healthy one at that.