The latest study to demonstrate this property in soya showed that soy protein intake was inversely associated with total and LDL-cholesterol concentrations and with the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol but not with HDL-cholesterol concentrations.
This cross-sectional study included 1033 pre- and postmenopausal women selected from the Oxford arm of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition.
Women who consumed at least 6g of soy protein per day had mean blood levels of LDL-cholesterol 12.4 per cent lower than that in women who consumed less than 0.5g per day, write the researchers in this month's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (vol 80, no 5, pp1391-1396).
The findings, by the team from the Cancer Research UK Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford in the UK, support an already sizeable body of data showing this cholesterol-lowering effect, which has led to a health claim both in the US and in the UK (through a voluntary claims body, the JHCI).
Cholesterol remains the single biggest modifiable risk factor for coronary heart disease, which kills more than 120,000 people every year in the UK alone, and is the leading cause of death around the world.
Recent predictions from food industry executives polled by Reuters Business Insight suggest that by 2009, cholesterol-lowering foods will be the most profitable health food pushing current trends like low-carb well down the list.