Low-fat diets, move over. When it comes to lowering cholesterol, a “portfolio” diet that includes cholesterol-lowering foods such as oatmeal, nuts, and soy products is better.
Several years ago, researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto created what they called a “dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods.” It went after cholesterol by adding to a heart-healthy diet specific foods known to lower cholesterol: margarine enriched with plant sterols; oats, barley, psyllium, okra, and eggplant, all rich in soluble fiber; soy protein; and whole almonds.
In a head-to-head test against the low-fat diet traditionally recommended by the American Heart Association, the portfolio approach was the clear winner. (You can see the makeup of the test diet here.) After 24 weeks, it lowered harmful LDL cholesterol by 13%, while the low-fat diet lowered LDL by only 3%. As an added benefit, the portfolio approach also lowered triglycerides and blood pressure, and did not depress the level of beneficial HDL cholesterol. The results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
What I appreciate about this study is that it Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*
Your doctor has just informed you that you have “hyperlipidemia” – or high cholesterol. She’s mentioning lipid-lowering drugs (statins), but you said you want to try some things on your own first. She agrees and will recheck your blood levels in three months. What are you going to do?
The advice is all over the map and your Google searches come up with various supplements and diets that are confusing and overwhelming. Here are some specific recommendations, based on evidence, that can help you lower your cholesterol. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*
I have had several people recently ask me about whether eating foods from soy is harmful. Some have asked because they have a thyroid problem and heard that soy interferes with their synthroid, others are worried about breast cancer, and most recently I guess some negative press has been writing about men and soy. Let me try to set the record straight.
What is soy?
All soy foods come from soybeans. Soy has a high protein content as well as carbs, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and some healthy fats. Soy is an excellent source of plant-based protein because it is known as a “complete protein” meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids. Whole soy is best, meaning it has been minimally processed and you are getting the naturally occurring nutrients found in the soybean. Foods that contain whole soy are edamame, soynuts, and surprisingly a bar called SOYJOY. Tofu and soymilk are also great sources of soy.
Health Benefits/Dispelling Myths
Numerous health benefits of soy have been very well documented in literature. In addition, many myths about soy have been dismissed with research studies.
Heart health: Soy is cholesterol free, low in saturated fat, and contains healthy fats. Some evidence also shows that it helps to lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.
Breast cancer: A high soy intake during puberty has been shown to reduce breast cancer risk, but consuming it as an adult has not been linked to lowering risk. Some animal studies have connected soy isoflavones with breast cancer growth, but no data on humans has supported this. In fact, some studies show a favorable impact on breast cancer outcomes with soy. Check with your physician before taking a soy isoflavone supplement. The American Cancer Society suggests that up to 3 servings of soyfoods per day is safe for a breast cancer survivor.
Bone health: Soybeans and calcium-fortified soyfoods are good choices because of the soy isoflavones as well as calcium and Vitamin K which can help bone mineralization.
Menopause: Over 50 studies have examined whether soy can relieve hot flashes in menopause and the consensus is that it may for many women but it depends on hot many hot flashes you get and how much soy isoflavone is taken.
Reproduction: No human data shows that consuming soy causes abnormal testosterone or estrogen levels. Several studies found no affect on sperm or semen when consuming soy isoflavones.
Thyroid: A comprehensive review of literature concluded that soy does not adversely affect thyroid function. Researchers recommended that thyroid function be reassessed if there is a large increase or decrease in soy intake, but normal day-to-day variations are unlikely to affect normal thyroid function.
Good for the Planet
Soy is environmentally friendly. The amount of fossil fuel to process soybeans is estimated to be 6-20 times less than that used to produce meat.
Soy foods can be part of a healthy diet for men and women. Eating 2-3 servings per day of soy foods is safe and very healthy. Soy contains important protein, amino acids, fiber, calcium, potassium, zinc, iron, and folic acid.
For more information:
This post, Is Soy Safe?, was originally published on
Healthine.com by Brian Westphal.