Soy Protein Shows Consistent Cholesterol-Lowering Effects, Study Suggests

A new meta-analysis pooled data from dozens of clinical trials spanning the last two decades—and found that soy protein has consistently shown cholesterol-lowering effects, according to a press release.

This study comes as FDA is proposing to revoke the health claim for soy protein and heart disease.

David Jenkins, professor of nutritional sciences and medicine at University of Toronto (U of T), said in the release: “At no time since the original claim for soy as a reducer of serum cholesterol has its ability been in question. It’s been consistent since 1999. The data have not changed.”

The researchers showed a reduction in both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, an effect which held steady across all 46 trials that FDA cited in 2017 when it first proposed to revoke the health claim based on recent trials showing variable results.

John Sievenpiper, co-author and professor of nutritional sciences at U of T, said in the release: “Sometimes you see a regression to the mean, where analyses with small studies produce big effects that diminish as sample sizes increase and results get more precise. But in this case, nothing has changed.”

Jenkins added: “We’re moving into an age of plant-based protein, and it would be a shame to see that shift undermined… If you knock out one leg of that stool then the others could be up for grabs, right when concerns about health and the environment are bringing plant-based eating into the mainstream.”

FDA, the release says, will likely make a decision on the health claim for soy this summer.