Soy food consumption does not lower LDL cholesterol in either equol or nonequol producers

Alicia A Thorp, Peter R C Howe, Trevor A Mori, Alison M Coates, Jonathan D Buckley, Jonathan Hodgson, Jackie Mansour, Barbara J Meyer
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2008, 88 (2): 298-304

BACKGROUND: Health claims link soy protein (SP) consumption, through plasma cholesterol reduction, to a decreased risk of heart disease. Soy isoflavones (ISOs), particularly in individuals who produce equol, might also contribute to lipid lowering and thus reduce SP requirements.

OBJECTIVE: The objective was to examine the contributions of SP, ISOs, and equol to the hypocholesterolemic effects of soy foods.

DESIGN: Nonsoy consumers (33 men, 58 women) with a plasma total cholesterol (TChol) concentration >5.5 mmol/L participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover intervention trial. The subjects consumed 3 diets for 6 wk each in random order, which consisted of foods providing a daily dose of 1) 24 g SP and 70-80 mg ISOs (diet S); 2) 12 g SP, 12 g dairy protein (DP), and 70-80 mg ISOs (diet SD); and 3) 24 g DP without ISOs (diet D). Fasting plasma TChol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides (TGs) were measured after each diet.

RESULTS: TChol was 3% lower with the S diet (-0.17 +/- 0.06 mmol/L; P < 0.05) than with the D diet, and TGs were 4% lower with both the S (-0.14 +/- 0.05 mmol/L; P < 0.05) and SD (-0.12 +/- 0.05 mmol/L; P < 0.05) diets. There were no significant effects on LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, or the TChol:HDL cholesterol ratio. On the basis of urinary ISOs, 30 subjects were equol producers. Lipids were not affected significantly by equol production.

CONCLUSIONS: Regular consumption of foods providing 24 g SP/d from ISOs had no significant effect on plasma LDL cholesterol in mildly hypercholesterolemic subjects, regardless of equol-producing status.

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