Soy protein foods have attracted attention as useful plant protein foods with mild cholesterol-lowering effects that are suitable for inclusion in therapeutic diets. But on the basis of the lack of consistency in significant cholesterol reduction by soy in 46 randomized controlled trials, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reassessing whether the 1999 heart health claim for soy protein should be revoked.
We have, therefore, performed a cumulative meta-analysis on the 46 soy trials identified by the FDA to determine if at any time, since the 1999 FDA final rule that established the soy heart health claim, the soy effect on serum cholesterol lost significance. The cumulative meta-analysis for both total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol demonstrated preservation of the small, but significant, reductions seen both before and during the subsequent 14 years since the health claim was originally approved. For low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the mean reduction in 1999 was -6.3 mg/dL (95% CI, -8.7 to -3.9 mg/dL; P=0.00001) and remained in the range of -4.2 to -6.7 mg/dL ( P=0.0006 to P=0.0002, respectively) in the years after 1999. At no time point did the total cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol reductions lose significance or were the differences at individual time points in the cumulative meta-analysis significantly different from those seen in 1999 when the health claim was approved.
A cumulative meta-analysis of the data selected by the FDA indicates continued significance of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol reduction after soy consumption and supports the rationale behind the original soy FDA heart health claim.
Journal of the American Heart Association
Jenkins DJA, Blanco Mejia S, Chiavaroli L et al. (2019) Cumulative meta-analysis of the soy effect over time. Journal of the American Heart Association 8, e012458.