WASHINGTON  (Food-News.net)  The Soyfoods Association of North America (SANA) is encouraging women to add soyfoods to their plates to protect their hearts during September, National Cholesterol Education Month.  Often, women are too busy worrying about the health of others and do not take the time to care for themselves.  Now that kids are back in school, it’s the perfect time for moms to check their blood cholesterol and begin a heart-healthy diet.

Research has consistently found that individuals consuming about 25 grams of soy protein a day have reduced blood cholesterol by about three to five percent (1, 2).  When combined with a low saturated fat diet, eating soyfoods with foods high in fiber, healthy oils, and plant sterols throughout the day packs more cholesterol lowering power(2).  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in every six adults, 16% of the U.S. adult population, have high total cholesterol levels above 240 mg/dL; and in the U.S. more women than men have these high levels.  Individuals with high total cholesterol have approximately twice the risk of heart disease as people with optimal levels at less than 200 mg/dL(3).

So what can women do today to invest in their heart health and stay around longer and healthier for those they love?

1) Have their blood cholesterols checked. As we get older our cholesterol levels rise. After menopause, women especially are at risk of rising low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels.  At any age, Americans can set the stage for a healthy heart by eating a nutritious diet that includes soyfoods.

2) Lower the bad and increase the good indicators. Ever since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a health claim for soy protein and heart disease(4), research has continued to conclude that a diet low in saturated fat combined with about 25 grams of soy protein (four servings of soyfoods) helps reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol(1).  More recent data also suggest that incorporating soyfoods into the diet may slightly increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) “good” cholesterol (2, 5, 6).  There are very few ways to increase HDL cholesterol levels but eating soyfoods is one of them.  So enjoy a veggie burger, sip on a soymilk smoothie, or toss edamame into a salad to boost heart health.

3) Eat a heart-healthy diet. Soyfoods have a high quality soy protein known to lower cholesterol, and soy is naturally cholesterol-free and very low in saturated fat.  Today’s selection of soyfoods makes it easy to add soy yogurt or soymilk over cereal at breakfast, a soybean/fruit bar for lunch, and a tofu stir-fry, grilled soy cheese, or chicken-less chef salad for dinner.  Select and prepare soyfoods as part of your low saturated fat, low cholesterol diet today.  Need ideas how?  Discover a new soy recipe at: http://www.soyfoods.org/consumers/recipes.

Getting educated on how to lower blood cholesterol can begin today in recognition of National Cholesterol Education Month.  Making soyfoods part of a healthy diet is a big step forward.

For more information on soyfoods and heart disease, please visit http://www.soyfoods.org/nutrition-health/soy-for-heart-disease or for more ideas on how to lower cholesterol, visit: http://www.soyfoods.org/nutrition-health/soy-for-heart-disease/10-ways-to-lower-cholesterol. For more information on blood cholesterol, please visit: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/chol/wyntk.htm

The Soyfoods Association of North America (SANA) is a non-profit trade association that has been promoting consumption of soyfoods in the diet since 1978. SANA is committed to encouraging sustainability, integrity and growth in the soyfoods industry by promoting the benefits and consumption of soy-based foods and ingredients in diets. More information is available at www.soyfoods.org.

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