Soy Good: Component of soy foods improves blood flow and vessel health

An Italian study has found that a component of soy products, genistein, can bring about improved blood flow and blood vessel health, suggesting that soy can replace hormone therapy, which doctors now warn against because of increased risks of breast cancer, stroke and heart attack in women.

Genistein is one of the plant chemicals in isoflavones which are most prevalent in soyfoods and have been found to help lower cholesterol. Now a recent study by the University of Messina in Italy has determined that genistein also produces chemicals that enhance blood flow and blood vessel dilation.

The Italian study randomly assigned 79 healthy post-menopausal women one of three courses of treatment over a year. One group received hormone therapy, estrogen and progesterone. A second group received genistein, and a third group took a placebo. Treatment with genistein indicated that it can slow the progression of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, as well as helping improve blood pressure.

Soy products have been recommended for use by women suffering from menopausal systems since a major study called the Women’s Health Initiative was canceled last year after it was determined that hormone therapy increases the risk of breast cancer and other diseases.

Foods for the Future, Aug 27, 2003