Natural Foods Merchandiser

FDA re-evaluates soy research

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is re-evaluating scientific evidence for its authorized health claim for soy protein's ability to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The administration will take public comment on the subject until Feb. 19.

For foods that contain at least 6.25 grams of soy, the current claim states, "25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease."

Since 1999, when the FDA first authorized the health claim for soy, numerous studies have evaluated the soy-heart disease connection, with inconsistent findings, says the FDA. It will evaluate the new evidence to determine if the body of research continues to meet the standard of significant scientific agreement, which is needed for an authorized health claim.

A Harvard Health Letter published in June 2007 reported that perhaps soy protein's heart benefits have been inflated.

However, Nancy Chapman, R.D., executive director of the Soyfoods Association of North America, in Washington, D.C., said she feels "confident that the review will result in confirmation of the initial finding [that supports the health claim]." She explained that many of the media-reported inconsistencies were based on research looking at soy components other than protein, and different markers of cardiac function, such as triglycerides.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIX/number 2/p. 1

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