High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
Very high levels of cholesterol may be associated with an increased risk of heart attack and death. Fortunately, these terrifying health risks can be reduced by lowering your cholesterol levels. Adding more soya beans to your diet is one way to help lower your levels.
Unlike many other plant-based proteins, soya beans are a complete protein, so they often form a key part of vegetarian and vegan diets.
Edamame beans are whole, immature soybeans, sometimes referred to as vegetable-type soybeans.
They are green and differ in colour from regular soybeans, which are typically light brown, tan or beige.
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In a study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, the effects of soy protein intake on serum lipids were investigated. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7596371/
The study noted: “In laboratory animals, the consumption of soy protein, rather than animal protein, decreases serum cholesterol concentrations, but studies in humans have been inconclusive.
“In this meta-analysis of 38 controlled clinical trials, we examined the relation between soy protein consumption and serum lipid concentrations in humans.
“We used a random-effects model to quantify the average effects of soy protein intake on serum lipids in the studies we examined and used hierarchical mixed-effects regression models to predict variation as a function of the characteristics of the studies.
“In this meta-analysis we found that the consumption of soy protein rather than animal protein significantly decreased serum concentrations of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides without significantly affecting serum HDL cholesterol concentrations.”
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Researchers examined 43 trials to evaluate the effect soy had on LDL levels. (High LDL levels can lead to a build-up of cholesterol in arteries and increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.)
It was found that, on average, eating 25 grams of soy protein per day, over a six-week period, lowered LDL levels by about 3 percent to 4 percent, which is a small but still significant amount.
Soy is used to make many food products, such as tofu, soy milk, and veggie burgers and other meat substitutes, as well as a protein powder for smoothies.
About 3.5 cups of soy milk or a large scoop of soy protein powder equals 25 grams of soy protein.
Soya beans are a nutritious food containing protein, fibre, unsaturated fats and a range of vitamins and minerals, and as part of a healthy, balanced diet, soya beans could still help to lower cholesterol, said the British Heart Foundation.
The health site continued: “That’s because replacing foods high in saturated fat with those containing unsaturated fats can help to lower cholesterol.
“Soya beans, or soya products made from them such as tofu, soya chunks or mince, can be used as a replacement for fatty or processed meats.”
Alongside a diet rich in protein and added soya beans, exercise is key when it comes to lowering levels of cholesterol.
Dietician Helen Bond said: “Cholesterol can change quite quickly, which is why exercise and eating healthy should be embedded into your everyday routine.
“But we’re talking a few weeks, rather than days – the odd meal or day where you eat a bit more than usual (including too much saturated fat) won’t make a difference to your cholesterol levels in the long run, but if your healthy eating and exercise habits have totally gone out the window during the lockdown, this could have a big impact on your cholesterol levels and your weight.
“Therefore, if your habits have changed over lockdown, now’s the time to reinstate healthy eating habits and get daily exercise (within UK Government guidelines to stay active and stay safe) before those new overindulgences become a habit that’s hard to break.”
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