The company bought the intellectual property from rival Solae, adding them to the package of patents on soy isoflavones that it acquired from the firm earlier this year.
Both soy protein and plant sterols -also extracted from soy - are already well-established in the heart health foods market, with the US Food and Drug Administration backing health claims for their effects on cholesterol-lowering and voluntary health claims bodies in Europe, such as the UK's JHCI, following suit.
Using both ingredients together could give a heart health product real weight, according to ADM.
"Food and beverage companies…are looking at combination ingredients that will deliver the optimum health benefit," Steven Furcich, president of ADM Natural Health & Nutrition, told NutraIngredients.com.
"Combining these ingredients creates the possibility for dualclaims on the packaging and appeal to health-conscious consumers whoseek out approved claims on the products they purchase."
ADM has not tested the effect of a soy protein and sterol combination on cholesterol or other heart health markers so it is not yet clear how much extra benefit a product containing both ingredients could offer.
Currently cereal products make up 46 per cent of the foods carrying heart health claims in the US, Japan, Australia and five major European markets, according to UK consultancy Leatherhead Food, largely because of their high fibre content.
But both soy protein and sterols are among a handful of other ingredients increasingly used in this $3.6 billion market.
And they are set to fuel rapid growth of heart health foods - Leatherhead has forecast that this category will grow by 60 per cent to reach nearly $5.7 billion by 2009 as food makers try to help prevent the biggest cause of deaths around the world.
Heart disease is responsible for nearly half (49 per cent) of all deaths in Europe, killing more than 4.35 million people each year. Reducing cholesterol is one of the most important preventable factors in the disease.
The status of the ADM patents vary by country. It did not disclose the terms of the deal.