Dubbed the “silent killer,” high cholesterol spells trouble for your cardiovascular health, increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke. This is where the medications known as statins step in to lower the amount of cholesterol produced by your body. However, soy could also be very effective, according to new research.
Whether you add a splash of soy milk to your coffee or mix fried tofu cubes into your noodles, soybeans cemented themselves as a popular, plant-based staple in the last century.
And for good reason. Packed with several vitamins and minerals, soy has been linked to a lower risk of a range of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and stroke.
If you think this plant-based food is only for vegans, a new study might make you think again.
Research, published in the journal Antioxidants, found that consuming soybean meal rich in the protein B-conglycinin has the potential to lower “bad” cholesterol levels.
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The team looked at 19 varieties of soybean meal, each containing different ratios of two proteins: glycinin and B-conglycinin.
The proportion of glycinin in these varieties ranged from 22 percent to 60 percent, while the B-conglycinin ratio ranged from 22 percent to 52 percent.
Using a simulation of the human digestive process, the team identified 13 bioactive peptides produced during digestion, most of which came from these two proteins.
In addition, the researchers found that its inhibitory properties were two to seven times less potent than those of simvastatin – a popular drug used to treat high levels of “bad” cholesterol and fat in the blood.
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The study author added: “The peptides from the digested soybeans were able to reduce lipid accumulation by 50 to 70 percent, which is very important.
“That was similar to the statin, which reduced it by 60 percent.”
In addition, the soybean varieties also reduce oxidized “bad” cholesterol – the type that dangerously builds up on your artery walls.
Mejia said: “One of the major risk factors of atherosclerosis is oxidized LDL [bad] cholesterol; therefore we investigated the preventive effects of the soybean digests in eight different concentrations.
“Each of them reduced the LDL oxidation rate in a dose-dependent manner, inhibiting the formation of both early and late oxidation products associated with the disease.”
Higher concentrations of B-conglycinin proved especially helpful, as the protein showed greater reductions in oxidized “bad” cholesterol and other fats in the blood.
Plus, high cholesterol wasn’t the only condition that benefited from soybean meal.
“We also clearly saw several markers influenced by key enzymes regulating hepatic lipogenesis – the development of a fatty liver,” added Mejia.
This suggests potential for preventing fatty liver disease.