Soybeans have done for heart patients what a host of drugs and special diets couldn't.
In patients with kidney disease, specifically a large amount of protein in the urine, with elevated cholesterol levels, those consuming a vegetarian soy diet for eight weeks experienced significant falls in blood cholesterol and in urinary protein excretion. As soon as they returned to normal diets, their blood cholesterol and urine protein levels returned to what they'd been before.
According to the study, conducted by the University of Milan, the "soy diet induced a moderate but significant reduction in urinary protein excretion that. . . could not be attributed to spontaneous improvement." This study has meaning for kidney patients whose cholesterol abnormalities increase the risk of heart disease.
At the same time the Department of Clinical Chemistry, University of Helsinki, demonstrated that the fact that Japanese women have a much lower incidence of hot flushes and other meno pausal symptoms may have something to do with the traditional Japanese low fat diet.
In studying the women from a village south of Kyoto the researchers found the women were excreting isoflavonoids, or weak oestrogens, 100-1000 fold higher than women consuming a typical western diet.
The excretion of iso flavonoids in urine is associated with eating soy products such as tofu and miso.
"Such high amounts [of isoflavonoids] could have biological effects, especially in postmenopausal women with low oestrogen levels," said the report.
Two other studies demonstrated the value of a vegetable rich diet. The Tottori University in Japan found that when a young woman with the autoimmune disease lupus erythematosus was taken off steroids and placed on a vegetarian diet, she significantly improved.
Finally, a study in northeastern Italy (International Journal of Cancer: 50:223-229) found an association between cancer of the colon and rectum and high consumption of white bread, cheese, eggs and red meat. The study also found a protective effect in a high consumption of carrots, spinach, wholegrain bread and pasta.