A new study has found that adhering to a diet rich in soy, early in life, helps boosts women’s heart health. Soy contains isoflavone, proteins and fiber, all of which are thought to offer health benefits. Studies have highlighted that soy helps in preventing postmenopausal bone loss, certain types of cancer, diabetes and also provides relief from menopausal symptoms. According to the researchers at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, NC, lifelong consumption of soy, similar to those of Asian women, produces the least atherosclerosis. Adhering to a Western diet after menopause, similar to the Asian migrants to North America, triggers as much atherosclerosis as that of lifelong Western diet. Switching to soy from Western diet after menopause helps only if much atherosclerosis doesn’t already exist.
“This study underscores how important it is for women to get into the best cardiovascular shape they can before menopause. The healthy habits they start then will carry them through the years to come,” said NAMS Executive Director Margery Gass, MD. The researchers based their finding on the feeding study that they conducted on cynomolgus monkeys before and after their surgical menopause. The premenopausal monkeys were fed a diet in which the protein was derived from animal sources or diet with protein retrieved from high-isoflavone soybeans. The ovaries of the monkeys were surgically removed in order to replicate the human menopause. After this one group of monkeys continued to follow a soy diet, the other group switched from an animal protein to soy diet. A third group of monkeys continued to eat the same animal protein and the fourth group changed the diet from animal protein to soy.
After 34 months, the researchers checked the cholesterol levels in the monkeys. It was noticed that those who ate a diet rich in soy before and after menopause, had normal cholesterol levels, and those monkeys who switched to soy protein diet after menopause had improvements in their cholesterol level. This switch is most often made by some North American women who are concerned about their heart health but the researchers found no significant difference in the progression of plaque in the arteries. However, those adhering to a lifelong diet rich in soy had less proportion of complicated plaque in their arteries as compared to the others. “There was a big advantage to a postmenopausal switch to soy for some of the monkeys, however. For those that had small plaques in the arteries at the time of menopause, the switch to soy after menopause markedly reduced the progression of plaque in the arteries,” researchers explain.
Tip of the Day
Planning meals in advance helps you get tasty meals to the table faster! Knowing what you’re going to cook ahead of time can help you get tasty, healthy meals to the table faster. When you know what you’ll be eating, you’ll spend less time stressing about what to serve your family at the end of a hectic day. Ask for input from your family on favorite healthy meals they enjoy. Make sure to keep weekday meals simple and plan for meals that you cook once but eat twice, like stews, soups and pasta dishes. This week, take 15 minutes at the beginning of your busy week to plan your meals.