May 13, 2009

The one-two punch
to beat cholesterol

Soy is one of the more controversial foods in the medical world. Some studies say it contributes to cancer. Others say it is very healthy. For years, I've said modest soy intake is very healthy. And I've encouraged my patients and readers to eat or drink a little a few times a week.

Now there's evidence that soy can lower your cholesterol and fight prostate cancer. In the first study, the researchers found something very interesting. They discovered something you can drink with soy to make it fight cholesterol even better.

Researchers recently performed this controlled study on 100 people with cholesterol problems. The researchers divided the participants into one of four groups. The first group took 50 gm of soy daily. The second group took three grams of green tea in 500 cc of water daily. The third group took both soy and green tea. And the fourth group took a placebo.

The group taking both soy and green tea saw a significant reduction in total cholesterol. However all three non-placebo groups had an improvement in their antioxidant blood levels. This shows the benefit of drinking green tea with a little soy milk in it a few times a week.

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A second study in Asia found that eating soybean products more than once per day will lower your risk of prostate cancer.

The study matched 28 men with prostate cancer to 28 controls. Those eating soy at least daily dropped their risk by 71%. Those eating soy at least twice weekly dropped their risk by 62%.

I still say that soy in moderation is healthy. While others in my field are warning you away from soy, I am not convinced that those warnings are sound. I still eat soy products, averaging about once a week (and more if traveling).

I do have one caveat. If you're overweight and infertile, you might want to limit your intake of soy. I have seen one report about a group of infertile men. In these men, those consuming the most soy had a lower sperm count. These men were already infertile and obese. Obese men already will have too much estrogen, since fat cells convert testosterone to estrogen. It is possible that they were therefore more sensitive to the phytoestrogens in soy. But for most people, I still suggest soy use in moderation.

Yours for better health and medical freedom,

Ref: Nutrition, 2008; 24(6); Asian J Androl, 2008; 10(4).

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