WASHINGTON, March 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The Cleveland Clinic, considered the world leader in coronary care and research, says in its latest health publication that the ability of soy to reduce "bad" cholesterol is the chief benefit of soy in helping prevent heart disease.
Writing in the March issue of The Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor, Dr. Gary S. Francis answered a reader who queried "Will soy help prevent heart disease?" Studies have "found benefits from a diet rich in soy protein," said Dr. Francis, who is director of the coronary intensive care unit at the Cleveland Clinic and editor-in-chief of the Heart Advisor.
"Perhaps foremost among these benefits is the ability of soy to decrease the level of the bad form of cholesterol known as LDL," he said.
Describing the effects of soy on cholesterol as "real," Dr. Francis noted, however, that the degree of cholesterol-lowering can be modest, particularly in patients who already have heart disease. Soy may not replace cholesterol medications such as statins, he said. "But in people who are healthy but have a slightly elevated cholesterol, a diet high in soy may be sufficient to lower cholesterol to a more acceptable level," Dr. Francis wrote.
Soy also may have beneficial effects on blood pressure, he said, citing a "smaller amount of evidence."
Dr. Francis said some scientists think "chemicals in soy called isoflavones ... may be responsible for these health benefits."