For the estimated one in two adult Americans with elevated cholesterol levels, there is good news: eating soy burgers, tofu, and other soyfoods is a tasty way to lower both the total amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream and the so-called "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol that leads to heart attack and stroke.
The latest evidence, promoted during National Cholesterol Education Month, comes from a review of 35 high quality studies published over a ten-year period (1998-2008) where soy protein was consumed by healthy adults aged 25 to 65 years. Conducted by Arline McDonald, Ph.D., adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, this exhaustive review finds even moderate consumption of soy products -- in the range of 20 to 50 grams of soy protein daily -- reduced LDL cholesterol levels by 4 percent to 6 percent and total cholesterol by 3 percent to 5 percent beyond what can be achieved through a fat-modified diet alone. These reductions were observed in premenopausal and postmenopausal women, in young adults (25 -30 years), middle-aged adults (30 to 60 years), and adults aged 60 and older. From a public health perspective, a 3 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol reduces mortality by 6 percent.
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