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‘Comparable’ to a statin – popular bean could cut cholesterol by 70%

This Morning's Dr Chris discusses the signs of high cholesterol

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Dubbed the “silent killer”, high cholesterol spells trouble for your cardiovascular health, hiking your risk of heart disease and stroke. This is where the medication, known as statins, steps in to lower the amount of cholesterol produced by your body. However, soybean could also be very effective, according to new research.

Whether you add a splash of soy milk to your coffee or mix in fried tofu cubes to your noodles, soybeans have cemented themselves as a popular, plant-based staple in the last century.

And for a good reason. Packed with various vitamins and minerals, soy has been linked to a lower risk of a range of cardiovascular problems like heart disease and stroke.

If you think this plant-based food is only for vegans, a new study might prompt you to think again.

Research, published in the journal Antioxidants, found that consuming soy flour rich in the protein B-conglycinin has the potential to reduce “bad” cholesterol levels.

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In fact, the research team discovered that this soy product cut high cholesterol and other lipid levels by as much as a whopping 70 percent.

Furthermore, humble soy was also able to lower the risk of metabolic diseases such as fatty liver disease and atherosclerosis, which details the build-up of fats in your blood vessels.

While soybeans have been celebrated for their cholesterol-lowering properties for a while now, this new research decided to look at the real mechanism responsible for these effects.

The author of the study Elvira de Mejia said: “As we hypothesized, soybeans’ effects on cholesterol metabolism are not only associated with their protein concentrations and composition but also with the peptides embedded in them that are released during gastrointestinal digestion.”

The team looked at 19 soybean flour varieties, each of which contained different proportions of two proteins – glycinin and B-conglycinin.

The proportion of glycinin in these varieties ranged from 22 percent to 60 percent while the B-conglycinin ratio ranged from 22 percent to 52 percent.

Using a simulation of the human digestive process, the team identified 13 bioactive peptides produced during digestion, most of which came from these two proteins.

What’s more, the researchers found that the inhibitory properties were two to seven times less potent than simvastatin – a popular drug used to treat high levels of “bad” cholesterol and fat levels in the blood.

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The study author added: “The digested soybeans’ peptides were able to reduce lipid accumulation by 50 percent to 70 percent, and that’s very important.

“That was comparable to the statin, which reduced it by 60 percent.”

Furthermore, the soybean varieties also cut oxidised “bad” cholesterol – the type that dangerously builds up on your artery walls.

Mejia said: “One of the key risk factors of atherosclerosis is oxidised LDL [bad] cholesterol; therefore, we investigated the preventive effects of the soybean digests at eight different concentrations.

“Each of them reduced the LDL oxidation rate in a dose-dependent manner, inhibiting the formation of both early and late oxidation products associated with the disease.”

Greater concentrations of B-conglycinin proved especially useful, as the protein showed greater reductions in oxidised “bad” cholesterol and other fats in the blood.

What’s more, high cholesterol wasn’t the only condition that benefited from soybean flour.

“We also clearly saw different markers that were influenced by key enzymes that regulate hepatic lipogenesis – the development of a fatty liver,” Mejia added.

This suggests potential for preventing fatty liver disease.

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