Malaysian food manufacturers can now claim that foods containing at least five grams of soy protein per serving help to reduce (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. However, the statement must be accompanied by an explanation that the necessary amount for health benefits is 25 grams per day.
The nutrient function already accepted to varying degrees by seven other countries, including the US.
"Malaysian authorities approved this claim after thoroughly examining 46 studies collected and submitted by our company," said Greg Paul, PhD, director of global health and nutrition at The Solae Company. "Their decision was made based upon an enormous and still growing body of data showing the heart health benefits of soy protein. It's the weight of this scientific evidence that has led so many other countries to authorize similar claims."
Soy protein has been found to have other cardiovascular benefits, such as preventing against blood clots, thus reducing a person's risk of heart disease or stroke. Other studies have indicated soy protein May be linked with lower blood pressure.
Producer of Solae soy protein, The Solae Company (a joint venture between Dupont and Bunge Limited) is a food science and ingredient manufacturing organization headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri.
Last year it moved to extend its presence in the Asian market with a new soy protein manufacturing facility in China.
High cholesterol is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which accounts for 30 per cent of all deaths - killing more than 16 million people worldwide each year.
Soy forms an important part of the traditional diet of some Asian countries, such as Japan, but the popularity of Western dietary habits, particularly in the younger generation, has led to increasing rates of heart disease.
The studies on soy protein found that consuming 25 grams of soy protein per day, while maintaining a low fat, low cholesterol diet, translates into a 10 per cent reduction in individual risk for heart disease.
The US Food and Drug Administration's approved health claim links 25g of soy protein a day to a reduced risk of heart disease when included in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Recent data revealed by market researcher Freedonia suggests that such health claims will contribute to a 5.1 per cent annual growth in demand for soy in the US over the next five years.
"Researchers continue to explore the positive benefits associated with soy protein, but more study is needed," said Dr. Paul. "As an industry leader, we will continue to invest in nutrition research that helps consumers make more informed decisions about what they eat."