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Soy and cholesterol

Cholesterol is a soft fatty substance. Cholesterol does not dissolve well in water. This weak ability of cholesterol to dissolve in water is a major factor in the development of atherosclerosis. The body gets cholesterol from the food but it is also produced by our body. Cholesterol is mainly produced in the liver, but also in the adrenal glands and reproductive organs. Cholesterol is a necessary component of your body cells and is a building material for hormones such as estrogen and testosterone.
Cholesterol can cause problems when high levels are present in the bloodstream. These high levels lead to hardening of the arteries, resulting in coronary heart disease and other vascular disease problems.

Soy can reduce cholesterol

Soy products help to control the cholesterol level because:
  • soy is cholesterol-free
  • the soy proteins reduce the cholesterol level
  • most of the fats in soy products are poly-unsaturated
  • soy isoflavones prevent atherosclerosis
  • soy contains soluble fibers which reduces the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood.
It is known that in countries were traditional soy products are consumed daily, the rates of cardiovascular diseases are low. There is some research that suggests that soy foods may help to prevent heart disease by reducing total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, blood pressure and possibly preventing plaque build-up in the arteries (atherosclerosis). Before the age of 60, man have more problems than women with their cholesterol levels. After menopause, when the production of natural estrogens drops, cholesterol levels in women will go up and the women become more suseptible to heart attacks. The soy isoflavones have a weak estrogen actity which is large enough to help reduce the cholesterol levels.

Meta-analyses of the effects of soy protein intake on serum lipids

JW Anderson examined the relation between soy protein consumption and serum lipid concentrations in human in his meta-analysis of 38 controlled clinical trials, involving more than 730 volunteers [1]. In most of these studies, animal protein was replaced with soy protein (average 47g per day). The intake of energy, fat and cholesterol was similar when the subjects ingested control and soy-containing diets.These were the findings:
  • Replacing animal protein with soy protein reduced cholesterol with 9.3%.
  • Volunteers on the soy diet had their LDL cholesterol levels dropped on average by 12.3%.
  • The HDL cholesterol increased by 2.4% in volunteers on soy-containing diets.
Another meta-analysis conducted by Sonia blanco and her team studied 46 controlled trials on which the FDA will base its decision to revoke the heart health claim for soy protein [2]. They found that soy protein significantly reduced LDL cholestreol by about 3 to 4%. They concluded that it is advisable to increase plant protein intake of the general public.

FDA soy health claim

The FDA cholesterol claim allows food manufactures to claim that products containing more than 25 gr soya protein per serving will reduce the risk for heart diseases.


[1] Meta-analysis of the effects of soy protein intake on serum lipids. N Engl J Med. 1995 Aug 3;333(5):276-82. Anderson JW et al.
[2] A Meta-Analysis of 46 Studies Identified by the FDA Demonstrates that Soy Protein Decreases Circulating LDL and Total Cholesterol Concentrations The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 149, Issue 6, June 2019. Sonia Blanco et al.


High cholesterol


i'm writing because i am now a soy consumer due to my high level of cholesterol (in the 300's). thank goodness soy happens to come in many tasty varieties. my question is this: to lower my bad cholesterol and maintain and aide my good cholesterol, how much soy should i be consuming per day in 'mg' and 'grams'. i'm hearing different portions from different sources. please set me straight. thank you in advance for your help.

also, should my 30 year old wife that does not have high cholesterol also be consuming as much soy as you recommend me to?

and finally, is soy milk (Trader joe's low fat brand)with 35 mg of isoflavons per serving a good idea?

extremely grateful,
ozzy - 27/10/2013

Soy and cholesterol

Does soy cause your cholesterol go up especially ldl?
mmrsdab - 14/11/2013

Soy and cholesterol

A meta-analysis conducted in 1995 byAnderson concluded that the consumption of soy protein rather than animal protein significantly decreased serum concentrations of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides without significantly affecting serum HDL cholesterol concentrations (1). This study resulted in the approval by the FDA of the soy protein health claim. A more recent meta-analysis conducted in 2005 also showed that protein containing isoflavones significantly reduced serum total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triacylglycerol and significantly increased HDL cholesterol (2). In the European Union, no protein health claim is yet approved by the EFSA. It is still not 100% clear which soy components - soy protein, isoflavones, fibers or polyunsaturated fatty acids - are responsible for the cholesterol lowering effects of soy.

(1) Meta-analysis of the effects of soy protein intake on serum lipids. N Engl J Med. 1995 Aug 3;333(5):276-82.
(2) Meta-analysis of the effects of soy protein containing isoflavones on the lipid profile. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Feb;81(2):397-408.
Rob - 14/11/2013

Can soy milk raise your triglycerides?

Can soy milk raise your triglycerides?
patty - 02/05/2014

Can soy milk raise your triglycerides?

There are no indications that the consumption of soy products, such as soy milk, will increase triglycerides. Many studies have confirmed the favourable effect of soy consumption on heart health. One study found that there is a suggestive body of evidence that soy and dietary phytoestrogens favorably alter glycemic control, improve weight and fat loss, lower triglycerides, low density lipoprotein cholesterol and total cholesterol (1).
Another study found no direct effect of soy milk consumption on triglycerides, but concluded that a 25 g dose of daily soy protein from soy milk led to a modest 5% lowering of LDL-cholesterol relative to dairy milk among adults with elevated LDL-cholesterol. The effect did not differ by type of soy milk and neither soy milk significantly affected other lipid variables, insulin or glucose (2).

(1) Soy, phytoestrogens and metabolism: A review. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2009 May 25;304(1-2):30-42.
(2) Effect of two types of soy milk and dairy milk on plasma lipids in hypercholesterolemic adults: a randomized trial. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007 Dec;26(6):669-77.
Rob - 02/05/2014

my cholestrol level is high how can reduce

Plz help
chirag shah - 20/03/2015

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