The risk of heart disease increases significantly in women after menopause mostly because of estrogen deficiency. Soy protein, a good source of isoflavones that are known to bind estrogen receptors, has also been promoted as a dietary means for reducing the risk of heart disease. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of soy protein consumption on heart disease risk in postmenopausal women.
Moderately hypercholesterolemic postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to consume soy or control foods daily for 1 year. Serum samples were analyzed for total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, apolipoprotein (Apo) A, and Apo B. Sixty-two women completed the study.
There was a trend for total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels to increase after 1 year of soy protein supplementation (230.04 ± 6.1 vs 242.57 ± 6.2 mg/dL, P < 0.1, and 56.87 ± 2.5 vs 60.33 ± 2.5 mg/dL, P < 0.1, respectively). There were no significant differences in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol or triglyceride levels; however, a significant increase in Apo B levels (105.5 ± 5.9 vs 120.21 ± 5.9 mg/dL; P = 0.002) and a significant decrease in Apo A levels (189.36 ± 10 vs 173.21 ± 10 mg/dL; P = 0.009) were seen.
Our data indicate that 1-year soy protein supplementation did not confer cardiovascular benefits, in terms of favorable alterations in the lipid profile, in this cohort of postmenopausal women. These findings, as well as those from other studies, lend credence to the decision of the Food and Drug Administration to reevaluate the soy protein health claim issued a decade ago.