Soy Proteins, Cholesterolemia, and Atherosclerosis
This chapter describes the present state of knowledge of the activity of soy proteins on cholesterolemia, the therapeutic properties of soy proteins for atherosclerosis reduction, the potential cardiovascular health benefits and harmful effects of soy isoflavones (phytoestrogens), and the present knowledge of the beneficial effects of nonsoy legumes on cardiovascular health. Soy protein consumption successfully reduces cholesterolemia in experimental animals when elevated by dietary means as well as in humans with cholesterol elevations of genetic or nongenetic origin. A study confirming the hypocholesterolemic effect of soy protein was carried out by Milanese researchers in collaboration with Italian and Swiss clinical centers. Substitution of animal with soy proteins in the diet of hypercholesterolemic individuals or addition of soy proteins to lipid lowering diets4 have been repeatedly associated with significant cholesterol reduction. Normolipidemic or mildly hypercholesterolemic individuals frequently do not have a clear-cut hypocholesterolemic response to a soy protein diet.