Soy Good For The Heart

Soy Good For The Heart

Soy Good For The Heart

Food containing soybean protein may soon be allowed to include information on the label regarding soy’s ability to reduce the risk of heart disease — if a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposal released Tuesday is adopted.

“This proposal is based on the agency’s determination that soy protein, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease,” according to a statement issued by the federal agency.

Foods containing soy may lower heart disease risk by reducing blood levels of total cholesterol and LDL (”bad”) cholesterol. Consumption of 25 grams of soy protein per day can have an effect on cholesterol, according to studies.

“We considered that it would be possible to get 25 grams of soy protein in four eating occasions during the day,” said Dr. Susan Pilch of the FDA’s Office of Special Nutritionals in an interview with Reuters Health. “That means that a food would have to have 6.25 grams of soy protein to bear the claim.”

She said that many soy products meet the 6.25 grams standard, and some contain even higher levels. Soy protein is found in soy milk, tofu, meat substitutes, such as vegetable burgers, and baked goods containing soy flour.

“A vegetable burger may satisfy half of the requirement for 25 grams a day,” she said, “…and some shakes that can be made with soy protein might give 25 grams in one serving.”

“The amino acid content in soy protein is different from animal and most other vegetable proteins, and appears to alter the synthesis and metabolism of cholesterol in the liver,” according to an FDA statement. No particular cooking method alters the effect of the soy protein, Pilch said.

The data that FDA used to support the claim came from animal studies where the soy was cooked into baked products, given in drinks and cooked in meat substitute products.

“The best way to reduce the risk of heart disease is through a diet low in saturated fats and cholesterol,” Pilch commented. “Adding things such as soy protein or soluble fiber might enhance that overall approach.”






The Soy Health Claim

In October 1999, FDA approved a health claim that can be used on labels of soy-based foods to tout their heart-healthy benefits. The agency reviewed research from 27 studies that showed soy protein’s value in lowering levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol).

Food marketers can now use the following claim, or a reasonable variation, on their products: “Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving of (name of food) provides __ grams of soy protein.” To qualify for the claim foods must contain per serving:

– 6.25 grams of soy protein

– low fat (less than 3 grams)

– low saturated fat (less than 1 gram)

– low cholesterol (less than 20 milligrams)

– sodium value of less than 480 milligrams for individual foods, less than 720 milligrams if considered a main dish, and less than 960 milligrams if considered a meal.

Foods made with the whole soybean, such as tofu, may qualify for the claim if they have no fat other than that naturally present in the whole bean.

Food and Drug Administration, November 10, 1998. The FDA is soliciting comments on the proposal until January 25, 1999. Comments can be sent to the Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.