Can Early Inclusion Of Soy To A Diet Boost Women’s Heart Health?

Over the past years many debates have arison about whether soy is a healthy food or not. Soy has been accused of causing cancer and thyroid damage, among ther things. The answer probably is – it depends what kind of a soy product you are eating. If it is the traditional soy product such as tofu, natto, tempeh, or miso – as well as whole soybeans, soynuts, soymilk, soy yogurt, and soy cheese –  these are the the ones that Aisian people have eaten for thousands of years. These have been involved in promoting healthy hearts, bones and kidneys. If however you eat the soy products that are in the form of margarine or shortening made from partially hydrogenated soy oil – you will suffer from the effects of th trans fats. Beware also of foods containing processed soy protein.There is also the ongoing debate about soybeans grown genetically modified. See our previous articles about this.

There is increasing evidence that consumption of soy protein in place of animal protein lowers blood cholesterol levels and may provide other cardiovascular benefits. Epidemiologists have long noted that Asian populations who consume soy foods as a dietary staple have a lower incidence of Cardiovascular disease (CVD) than those who consume a typical Western diet.

A new study has found that adhering to a diet rich in soy, early in life, helps boosts women’s heart health.

Soy contains isoflavones, proteins and fiber – all of which are thought to offer health benefits. Studies have highlighted that soy helps in preventing postmenopausal bone loss, certain types of cancer, diabetes and also provides relief from menopausal symptoms.

According to the researchers at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, NC, lifelong consumption of soy, similar to those of Asian women, produces the least atherosclerosis. Adhering to a Western diet after menopause, similar to the Asian migrants to North America, triggers as much atherosclerosis as that of lifelong Western diet. Switching to soy from Western diet after menopause helps only if much atherosclerosis doesn’t already exist.

“This study underscores how important it is for women to get into the best cardiovascular shape they can before menopause. The healthy habits they start then will carry them through the years to come,” said NAMS Executive Director Margery Gass, MD

In the study, those adhering to lifelong diet rich in soy had less proportion of complicated plaque in their arteries as compared to the others.

“There was a big advantage to a postmenopausal switch to soy for some of the monkeys, however. For those that had small plaques in the arteries at the time of menopause, the switch to soy after menopause markedly reduced the progression of plaque in the arteries,” researchers explain.

The finding was documented in the journal Menopause.

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