Unhealthy diet is one of the major reasons why cardiovascular disease is on the rise. People who consume more processed and fat-rich food tend to have increased cholesterol levels in their bodies, which in turn increases their risk for heart disease and stroke.[1,2] Fortunately, this risk factor can be controlled simply by making small changes in eating habits. There are quite a few natural and easily available foods that keep these lifestyle diseases at bay. One such food is soybeans. Here’s how soybeans can help you lower your cholesterol levels.
Soya beans are a rich source of protein–
Soy protein itself has been recognized with the potential to lower cholesterol. The protein is made of peptides that regulate the levels of receptors for the uptake and processing of bad cholesterol by the liver cells. It has also been found to reduce the production of cholesterol by the body.[3,4]
Soya beans are rich in isoflavones –
Isoflavones are bioactive compounds found in many plants. Although these compounds alone do not have a significant effect on the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) when they are present along with soy protein they somehow tend to have a cholesterol-lowering effect. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition points out that the effect of soy protein is enhanced in the presence of isoflavones which gives rise to the synergistic effect of lowering cholesterol. Other compounds like phytosterol in soya beans help in reducing the absorption of bad cholesterol by the body.[3,5,6]
Soya beans are a good source of fibre –
Soybeans also contain soluble fibre pectin that is known to reduce cholesterol levels by promoting the uptake of bad cholesterol by the body for processing.
Together these three properties of soya beans make them a good source of cholesterol-lowering foods.
Here are some tips to make dietary changes to include soya beans in your diet.
- Substitute chicken with soya bean chunks– Vegetarians can substitute chicken with soya beans for a good protein substitute. You can look for recipes of soya curry and baked soya bean patties if you want to choose healthier homemade options.
- Soy drinks – There are many soy-based drinks like milkshakes and smoothies that are now available in the market. You can have a soy milkshake in the morning for your breakfast. It can also serve as a healthy post-workout drink.
- Soy cereals – These can be added to wheat and other grains in daily cooking. They can be used as a healthier alternative to refined flour in several recipes that you cook on a regular basis. There is also a variety of multigrain flour available in the market that contains soy cereals.
- Tofu – Tofu is nothing but a preparation made from soy milk that you can readily find in the market. You can choose several options, either baked or grilled, to make preparations of tofu. Tofu can be used as an alternative to paneer (cottage cheese) in curry preparations as well.
- Cardiovascular disease. World Health Organisation (WHO). https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cardiovascular-diseases-(cvds)
- American Heart Association. “Unhealthy diets linked to more than 400,000 cardiovascular deaths.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 March 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170309142345.htm>.
- Cereals and Pulses: Nutraceutical Properties and Health Benefits edited by Liangli L. Yu, Rong Tsao, Fereidoon Shahidi
- Michelfelder AJ1.Soy: a complete source of protein. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Jan 1;79(1):43-47.
- Ramdath DD, Padhi EM, Sarfaraz S, Renwick S, Duncan AM. Beyond the Cholesterol-Lowering Effect of Soy Protein: A Review of the Effects of Dietary Soy and Its Constituents on Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease. Nutrients. 2017;9(4):324. Published 2017 Mar 24. doi:10.3390/nu9040324
- Kyoko Taku et al. Soy isoflavones lower serum total and LDL cholesterol in humans: a meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials. The Am J Clinical Nutrition, Volume 85, Issue 4, April 2007, Pages 1148–1156, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/85.4.1148