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The AHA backs off its “soy is good” stand, but don’t applaud yet

The AHA backs off its “soy is good” stand, but don’t applaud yet

It wasn’t too long ago that the American Heart Association (AHA) was touting the heart-healthy benefits of soy. Now it’s singing a different tune. Well, sort of.

A few years ago, based on studies showing that 25 grams of soy protein a day could lower cholesterol, the FDA permitted manufacturers to claim that soy products could potentially cut the risk of heart disease. This led the AHA to recommend including soy in a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet.

But its first mistake was tying cholesterol to heart disease in the first place. There is little if any correlation among cholesterol, saturated fat, and heart disease. Cholesterol is an essential nutrient-not a top risk factor in heart disease. The organization’s second mistake was putting stock in research that was nothing more than faith-based science-a mistake it’s finally starting to come to grips with.

As the evidence began to stack up against soy’s impact on cholesterol, the AHA recently decided to take another look at the soy/heart hypothesis.

After reviewing 22 studies, it found that, in reality, large amounts of dietary soy protein had no significant effect on HDL, LDL, or blood pressure. The isoflavones, so highly touted as another soy miracle ingredient, also came out rated a big fat zero. The AHA reported on its newly discovered observations in Circulation, its official journal.

The importance of this article cannot be overestimated. Circulation is the bible of the cardiologists. When Circulation speaks, the cardiologists listen, as does the rest of the internal medicine community. So when the committee used this journal as its platform to report that soy-containing foods and supplements did not significantly lower cholesterol, that was NEWS. And in this case, it’s GOOD news (at least for those of us who want to retch at the thought of a soy-laden veggie “burger”).

Dr. Michael Crawford, chief of clinical cardiology at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, said, “We don’t want to lull people into a false sense of security that by eating soy they can solve the [cholesterol] problem. If they are radically altering their diet where they’re only eating soy in the hopes that this is going to bring their cholesterol down, they’re deluding themselves.”

OK, so we’re on the right track here. But that’s about where the newly found common sense ends.

A lesser evil is still evil

Apparently the “nutrition experts” (whoever they might be) still recommend soy as a lesser of evils, saying that soy-based foods are still a better option than eating less healthy fare like burgers and hot dogs. Well, whoever said that burgers and hot dogs are “less healthy”? Burgers are made from beef, and if they have been cooked medium to rare, they are among the most nutritious foods you can eat. Hot dogs are equally healthy. (Read my article in the January 2006 issue of Real Health Breakthroughs about the much-maligned hot dog-and all of its heart-healthy benefits.)

Further illustrating the intellectual bankruptcy in all matters concerning soy, we turn to one of the major players in the field of university nutrition-Harvard. Dr. Frank Sacks, a professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, led the committee that exposed this entire soy/cholesterol scandal. But even he is on the confusing teeter-totter of the soy argument.

Here’s what he has to say: “Soy proteins and isoflavones don’t have any major health benefits other than that soy protein products are generally good foods.” How can they be considered “good foods” if they don’t have any health benefit? Your guess is as good as mine. Yet, for some reason, he continues to bow to Saint Soy, saying that soy-based foods “are good to replace other foods that are high in cholesterol.” Outrageous.

Another nail in the soy coffin

Cholesterol isn’t the only health problem the AHA has changed its mind about concerning the previously touted benefits of soy. The Associated Press reported that “an AHA panel found that neither soy nor the soy component isoflavone reduced symptoms of menopause, such as ‘hot flashes,’ and that isoflavones don’t help prevent breast, uterine or prostate cancer. Results were mixed on whether soy prevented postmenopausal bone loss.”

So my question is this: If the other stupendous claims about soy have been proven false and lacking in scientific integrity, why would you believe it prevents anything, including bone loss? This is a classic example of collusion between organized medicine and the public press scamming the trusting masses with dishonest science to promote a product that is not only not good for you but is very bad for you.

You probably read this before in RHB, but let’s look again at some of the indictments against soy: It promotes low thyroid function leading to a general metabolic breakdown, resulting in stunted growth, sexual problems, obesity, and malnutrition. Soy doesn’t prevent bad things from happening to you. It causes them.

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