Regular consumption of soy can help women keep their heart healthy, a latest research out on Wednesday revealed.
The study reported in Menopause mainly concentrated on soy consumption before or after menopause (when the menstrual period stops) and atherosclerosis- an accumulation of fatty deposits in artery walls that narrows and damages its elasticity and affects the blood flow.
Losing the elasticity of arteries can increase the risk of many deadly diseases, including blood clots, strokes, heart failure, high blood pressure and renal failure.
Researchers at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in US said that eating soy throughout life gives the best results and switching to a western diet after menopause may neutralise the previous soy effects by producing the same amount of fatty deposits in the arteries as a lifelong western diet. However, replacing a western diet with a soy diet after menopause yields some results, only if the amount of fatty deposits is less.
The results are based on the experiments conducted on cynomolgus monkeys (crab-eating macaque) that underwent surgical menopause, a procedure where either ovaries or the uterus are removed to stop monthly periods.
Pre-menopause, the animals received either an animal-based protein diet (37 monkeys) or a high isoflavone soybean diet (34 monkeys). After menopause, the animals were divided into four groups according to the type of diet they followed- some continued with the soy diet (17), the second one replaced animal protein with soy (17), third group continued with animal protein (20) and fourth group switched from soy to animal protein (17).
A cholesterol check-up conducted after 34 months produced best results for monkeys that ate soy before and after menopause. The animals that started taking soy after menopause also had an improvement in cholesterol, but it depended on the amount of plague that was already present in their arteries. Monkeys that made soy part of their daily diet had lesser quantity of fatty deposits in arteries.
"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," The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Executive Director Margery Gass, said in a news release.
Some Best Eating Habits for Post- Menopausal women as provided by NHS Choices:
- Reduce or totally avoid saturated fats; use a low-fat spread instead of butter or skimmed milk for full fat milk
- Try to get enough calcium through dairy products, fish, leafy vegetables like cabbage and broccoli
- Add more wholegrain cereals, fibre-rich vegetables into daily diet
- Eat more protein rich foods like eggs, nuts and pulses
- Try to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day