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New study supports cholesterol lowering effect of soy protein

A study conducted by Maki and co-workers shows that soy protein significant lowers total cholesterol and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol compared to milk protein in patients with moderately high cholesterol levels.

The researchers explored the effect of the intake of insoluble fraction of soy protein on fasting lipid profile in a randomised, controlled, parallel arm trial. They also investigated the effect on the excretion of bile acids and neutral sterols. The men and women who participated in this study showed fasting LDL-cholesterol concentrations between 100 and 200 mg/dL while receiving no lipid altering therapy. Only those participants who responded to Colesevelam with at least 5% reduction in LDL-cholesterol were selected for the further trials.
The participants received either 25 g/d of an insoluble fraction of partially hydrolysed soy protein or 25 g/d total milk proteins. The researchers found that the intake of soy protein lowered non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (-10.8%), but do not know the exact mechanism. As the isoflavones levels in the soy protein were rather low they believe that these phytochemicals do not play a role in the observed cholesterol lowering. The milk protein supplemented group also showed a modest lowering of non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (-3.9%).They found no significant increases in either group for faecal bile acids or neutral sterols.

The study concluded that soy protein intake has a hypocholesterolemic effect, stronger that that of milk protein. These findings do not support the hypothesis that increased bile acid excretion is an important contributor to the hypocholesterolemic effects of proteins.

Source: Effects of soy protein on lipoprotein lipids and fecal bile acid excretion in men and women with moderate hypercholesterolemia. The Journal of Clinical Lipidology. 2010 Nov-Dec;4(6):531-42.

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