For years, studies have shown that soy lowers total cholesterol levels including LDL (bad) cholesterol, while raising HDL (good) cholesterol. Some even document improvements in the width of the arteries. Anderson1
This may be due to soy’s antioxidant properties, which could prevent LDL cholesterol from clogging the arteries. Jenkins2 The data has been so overwhelming that even the FDA issued a recommendation—they advise consuming 25 gm of soy protein per day to prevent heart disease.
Recently, a study was conducted using meal replacement shakes and nutrition bars, both soy- and milk-based. After six weeks, researchers noted a decrease of 15.2 percent in total cholesterol and 17.4 percent LDL cholesterol, as well as a significant decrease in triglycerides. Stats for those using milk-based meal replacements were 7.9 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively, with no drop in triglyceride levels. Anderson3
Please note that it’s unlikely that these improvements could occur after taking cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins for six weeks. And these are poor alternatives to begin with, because they rob the heart of important enzymes.
- Anderson, J.J., et. al., 1999. Health potential of soy isoflavones for menopausal women, Public Health Nutr, Dec;2(4):489-504.
- Jenkins, D.J, et. al., 2002. Effects of high- and low-isoflavone soyfoods on blood lipids, oxidized LDL, homocysteine, and blood pressure in hyperlipidemic men and women. Am J Clin Nutr, Aug;76(2):365-72.
- Anderson, J.W., Hoie, L.H., 2005. Weight loss and lipid changes with low-energy diets: comparator study of milk-based versus soy-based liquid meal replacement interventions. J Am Coll Nutr, Jun;24(3):210-6.