In older adults with high blood pressure, each 20 mmHg increase in systolic (first number) pressure doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Replacing non-soy protein with soy protein in the diet lowers this risk.

Here’s how.

First, the details.

60 healthy postmenopausal women received each treatment in random order

  • A Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet alone
  • A TLC diet in which soy nuts replaced 25 grams of non-soy protein
  • Each diet was followed for 8 weeks.

And, the results.

  • The TLC diet plus soy significantly lowered systolic blood pressure about 10% in women with high blood pressure (systolic BP at least 140 mm Hg)
  • The TLC diet with soy significantly lowered systolic blood pressure 5.2% in women who did not have high blood pressure
  • Soy nut supplementation also significantly lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol levels 11% in hypertensive women but had no effect in women with normal blood pressure.

The bottom line?
An older woman with a systolic blood pressure of 185 mm Hg who follows the TLC diet with soy can expect her blood pressure to be lowered by about 18 mm Hg. The goal for systolic pressure is less than 120. So, although she would not be considered to have achieved “control,” it’s a “healthy” response.

The TLC diet is used to lower cholesterol levels in the blood.

  • Less than 7% of the day’s total calories from saturated fat
  • 25% to 35% of the day’s total calories from fat
  • Less than 200 mg of dietary cholesterol a day
  • Limit sodium intake to 2400 mg a day.
  • Just enough calories to achieve or maintain a healthy weight and reduce your blood cholesterol level.

From a practical perspective, the TLC diet requires the guidance of a dietitian.

One more thing. I’ve emphasized the results of a positive study. Another report published last month found no benefit when soy protein was substituted for animal protein.

5/30/07 10:01 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.