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Long-Term Study Links Soy Consumption with Lower Blood Pressure

In the Western hemisphere, soy products are generally more popular with vegetarians but meat eaters may want to consider adding these important proteins to their diet. A study presented at the American College of Cardiology's 61st Annual Scientific Session suggests that even small amounts of soy isoflavones could help lower blood pressure.

The researchers, based at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, recruited 5,115 African American and Caucasian American participants for the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. All the participants were between the ages of 18 and 30 at the onset of the study.

The study began in 1985 and participants were evaluated at regular intervals for 20 years to track any development of cardiovascular disease. In 2005 they completed an extensive dietary survey and were placed into quartiles depending on their self-reported soy isoflavone consumption. Multivariable linear regression models were used to determine the exact relationship between systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) and soy consumption.

After adjusting for various lifestyle factors, the researchers found that higher consumption of soy isoflavones was linked with lower systolic blood pressure. Specifically, individuals who consumed more than 2.5 mg daily of soy isoflavones had a blood pressure reading as much as 10 mmHg lower than those who consumed less than 0.33 mg daily.

This was the first study to show a benefit of soy isoflavone intake in African Americans, who are at higher risk for high blood pressure.

Previous studies have found that consumption of soy isoflavones may result in the widening of blood vessels and improvement in artery function. Additionally, soy isoflavones have been associated with reduced menopause symptoms, reduced bone loss, decreased risk of prostate cancer, improved bone health, cancer prevention and slowing down the aging process.

Soy products can be easily found at many grocery stores in the form of tofu or soy milk. If those products don’t appeal to you, they are also available in supplement form.

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