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Older Women With Hypertension May Reduce Blood Pressure, Cholesterol With Soy Nuts

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 reported in the May 28 issue of Archives of Internal
Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

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.

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

"Compared with the TLC diet alone, the TLC diet plus soy nuts lowered
systolic and diastolic blood pressure 9.9 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively,
in hypertensive women and 5.2 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively, in normotensive

In women with high blood pressure, the soy diet also decreased
levels of low-density lipoprotein ("bad") cholesterol by an average of 11 percent
and levels of apoliprotein B (a particle that carries bad cholesterol) by an average
of 8 percent. Cholesterol levels remained the same in women with normal blood

"A 12-millimeter of mercury decrease in systolic blood pressure
for 10 years has been estimated to prevent one death for every 11 patients with
stage one hypertension treated; therefore, the average reduction of 15 milligrams
of mercury in systolic blood pressure in hypertensive women in the present study
could have significant implications for reducing cardiovascular risk and death
on a population basis," the authors write.

"This study was performed in
the free-living state; therefore, dietary soy may be a practical, safe and inexpensive
modality to reduce blood pressure. If the findings are repeated in a larger group
they may have important implications for reducing cardiovascular risk in postmenopausal
women on a population basis," they conclude.

Editor's Note: This study
was funded by the Harvard Medical School's Center of Excellence in Women's Health
(National Institutes of Health); a contract from the Office on Women's Health,
Department of Health and Human Services; and in part by a grant to the Beth Israel
Deaconess Medical Center General Clinical Research Center from the National Institutes
of Health.

Source; The Senior Journal; May 2007

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