LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A study conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky here lends credence to claims that products made with vegetables may be better for one's health than those made with meat.
Dr. James Anderson, professor of medicine and clinical nutrition at the university, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that eating soy protein significantly reduces moderate and high blood cholesterol levels. The analysis showed that both isolated soy protein and textured soy protein produced a positive effect.
The study pooled the results from 38 clinical trials. These involved 730 men, women and children who consumed, on the average, 47 grams of soy protein per day. Those who obtained about half their daily protein intake from soy lowered their cholesterol levels by an average of 10%.
High Density Lipoprotein cholesterol dropped only 2.4% while Low Density Lipoprotein cholesterol fell almost 13%. HDLs are called "good cholesterol" because they prevent artherosclerosis by removing cholesterol that is deposited on artery walls.
"We confirmed that soy protein has a real, positive effect on lowering LDL in humans," said Anderson.
"The breakthrough finding is that soy protein selectively decreases LDL levels without affecting the HDL levels. This is important because usually reductions in fat intake produce reductions in both LDL, which we want to happen, and in HDL, which we do not."
These studies also suggest that soy protein may reduce the risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis. However, Anderson cautioned that clinical trials are needed to confirm these theories.