Soy foods have long been lauded for their health benefits and a recent study holds why it should be included in a woman's diet. Researchers at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem have examined how an early indulgence in soy products can ward off various post-menopausal ailments. The study was published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society and it also explains that a life-long soy consumption may mitigate the risks of atherosclerosis- a condition where plaque builds up inside the arteries.
The scholars conducted their research on cynomolgus monkeys. After having their ovaries removed, mimicking human menopause, one group of monkeys continued to be on a soy diet, another switched from animal protein to soy while the third group stuck with animal protein. The experiment continued for 34 months after which it was found that the group that was on a soy diet throughout, experienced better cholesterol levels as compared to the other groups. However, not many statistical differences were seen when it came to the progression of plaque in the arteries.
As far as the total amount of atherosclerosis was concerned, monkeys consuming a life-long soy diet showed a much lower proportion of complicated plaque in the arteries than the others.
There was a big advantage to a post-menopausal switch to soy for some of the monkeys. For those that had small plaques in the arteries at the time of menopause, the switch to soy after menopause significantly reduced the progression of plaque in the arteries.
The research concluded that if a woman switches to a complete western diet after her menopause, it is likely that it can lead to just as much atherosclerosis as a lifelong Western diet could have otherwise. On the other hand, switching to soy from a Western diet after menopause helps only if there is not much atherosclerosis already, hence a life-time daily intake of soy is preferable, researchers suggested.