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Nutrient - Soy isoflavones may help reduce blood pressure

By Holly Taylor BSc(Hons) DipCNM MBANT NTCC

High blood pressure (hypertension) is estimated to affect approximately one billion individuals worldwide and is known to be a major risk factor in the development of cardiovascular disease. In addition to medical therapies, diet is known to play an important role in preventing and treating high blood pressure. 

This is supported by a new meta-analysis of eleven trials published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, which has shown that soy isoflavones may help to decrease blood pressure in patients with hypertension. 

To carry out the study, the scientists pooled the results of 11 separate trials, looking at the effect of soy isoflavones on blood pressure, and then reanalysed the results. The reviewers also performed a separate analysis to compare the effects on people with high blood pressure versus people with normal blood pressure. 

Overall, soy isoflavone treatment was shown to reduce systolic blood pressure by 2.5 mmHg and a decrease in diastolic blood pressure of 1.5 mmHg. In addition, reductions in blood pressure were found to be more significant in participants already suffering with hypertension than in those with normal blood pressure. 

The mechanism behind these benefits is thought to be a widening of blood vessels and improvement in artery function, but further trials are needed to confirm these ideas.

Article References

Liu XX et al. Effect of soy isoflavones on blood pressure: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases. 2011. Epub ahead of print.

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