Soy Isoflavones May Reduce Blood Pressure
High intakes of soy isoflavones may effectively reduce blood pressure according to a recent meta-analysis of 11 separate studies. 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.
The study was conducted by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and their findings were published in the February 2011 issue of the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases.
The cumulative data from the 11 studies on soy isoflavones showed that, in comparison to placebo, soy isoflavone treatment effectively reduced systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) by 2.5 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 1.5 mmHg.
The researchers then compared data of hypertensive and normotensive participants. They found that the reduction in blood pressure for hypertensive participants was greater for those who received the isoflavones than for those who received the placebo. No significant differences were seen for the normotensive participants.
This study adds strong science to back the link between soy isoflavones and blood pressure and further highlights the fact that dietary interventions may be an effective means of reducing blood pressure.
Although this study did not look into the mechanisms behind their findings, previous studies have found that consumption of soy isoflavones may result in the widening of blood vessels and improvement in artery function.
Other studies have found that isoflavones, particularly those derived from soy, may reduce menopause symptoms, reduce bone loss and decrease the risk of prostate cancer.
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.