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Food or Supplements¦ Which is Better for Soy Antioxidants?

A study from researchers at Stanford University recently found that soy foods may be a better source for isoflavones than supplements. Their research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and is published in the March 2009 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

Isoflavones are a type of plant polyphenol high in antioxidants. They can be found most abundantly in red clover and soy beans and have been associated with a number of health benefits like reducing bone loss and decreasing the risk of prostate cancer.

Soy isoflavones in particular are a well known type of phytoestrogen which have been shown to play a role in cancer prevention and are a popular alternative to hormone replacement therapy for women suffering from menopause symptoms.

For the study, researchers recruited 12 healthy participants to take part in the three phase trial. Each phase consisted of three isoflavone dosing periods spread out over 24 hours. This was followed by a seven day monitoring period at the end of which participant's blood samples were analyzed to determine isoflavone content.

In the first phase participants received a low dose (144 mg) isoflavone supplement. During the second they received a high dose (288mg) isoflavone supplement. During the third phase they ate soy rich foods containing 96 mg of isoflavones.

After reviewing the blood samples, researchers found that both soy foods and supplements raised blood isoflavone levels.

They also found that soy foods were more effective than supplements at increasing a specific type of isoflavone called genistein, which research indicates may have anti-cancer and heart health benefits.

Maintaining a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, eating more soy products and drinking green or white tea are all good ways to increase your isoflavone consumption.
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