US Recognizes Benefits of Soy Protein
~ June 2000 No.102 ~
Another food ingredient has passed the rigorous scrutiny of the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) and now can appear on food labels. US officials have concluded that there is now enough information to warrant a health claim that relates the consumption soy protein to reduced risque of coronary heart disease. However, like several other claims allowed by the USFDA, the benefits of soy protein are applicable in a diet that is low in saturated fats and cholesterol. Our diets are complex mixtures of compounds that can work together to alter our metabolism and help fight disease and infection. Saturated fat and foods containing cholesterol have long been identified as major factors contributing to increased blood cholesterol levels, which in turn is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Total blood cholesterol levels should be kept low and a fraction of total cholesterol called low density lipoprotein (LDL) should also be kept low. Doctors who have warned patients to get the fatty foods out of their diets and reduce intakes of foods high in cholesterol, can now offer some positive dietary advice. Eat more soybean products.
Soy protein is not like other types of protein in our diet such as meat protein or milk protein; it has a unique structure and also unique effects on the body. Experiments with humans have shown that including 25 grams of soy protein in the diet per day can reduce both total blood cholesterol and LDL levels. To qualify for a claim, a food must be low in fat and cholesterol and contain at least 6.25 grams of soy protein per serving. Soy protein can be added to many foods and so the choice should be large.
An example of the claim now allowed for foods containing soy protein: "Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving of (this food) provides xx grams of soy protein".
There are many products in the supermarket that are made from soy protein, including soy milk drink, soy based cheese and yogurt made from soy. These together with such traditional foods as tofu, miso and natto are good sources of soy protein. To be sure, foods that contain sufficient levels of soy protein will soon be carrying the new health claim.