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Soy Nuts may Improve Blood Pressure, Cholesterol Levels in Women

Substituting soy nuts for other protein sources in a healthy diet appears to lower blood pressure in postmenopausal women , and also may reduce cholesterol levels in women with high blood pressure, according to a report in the issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

The American Heart Association estimates that high blood pressure (hypertension) affects approximately 50 million Americans and 1 billion individuals worldwide. The most common-and deadly-result is coronary heart disease, according to background information in the article. Women with high blood pressure have four times the risk of heart disease as women with normal blood pressure.

Francine K. Welty, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, assigned 60 healthy post-menopausal women to eat two diets for eight weeks each in random order. The first diet, the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet, consisted of 30 percent of calories from fat (with 7 percent or less from saturated fat), 15 percent from protein and 55 percent from carbohydrates; 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day; two meals of fatty fish (such as salmon or tuna) per week; and less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol per day.

The other diet had the same calorie, fat and protein content, but the women were instructed to replace 25 grams of protein with one-half cup of unsalted soy nuts. Blood pressure and blood samples for cholesterol testing were taken at the beginning and end of each eight-week period.

At the beginning of the study, 12 women had high blood pressure (140/90 milligrams of mercury or higher) and 48 had normal blood pressure. "Soy nut supplementation significantly reduced systolic [top number] and diastolic [bottom number] blood pressure in all 12 hypertensive women and in 40 of the 48 normotensive women," the authors write. "Compared with the TLC diet alone, the TLC diet plus soy nuts lowered systolic and diastolic blood pressure 9.9 per
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