Tofu Nugget - ©

Soy Redeemed As ‘Heart Healthy’ Food Source

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently discussed revoking its ‘Heart Healthy’ certification of Soy Products, saying recent research casts doubt on earlier findings. But at least one new scientific study shows that Soy research results have remained constant over time…

Tofu Tacos - © itdoesnttastelikechicken.comTofu Tacos: Tofu, a Soy Product, is a popular ingredient among Vegetarians
and Vegans, and can take on the appearance or flavour of just about
any Animal Protein, even emulating ‘
Beef’ in these Tacos.

What the FDA saw

The government regulatory agency monitors scientific research constantly, looking for indicators that its rules need changing or updating. In 2017, the FDA said it was considering revoking its ‘heart healthy’ certification of Soy products because recent research results showed variable results.

What they did

Researchers at the University of Toronto, under pioneering nutrition scientist Dr. David Jenkins, wanted to look at a large pool of data from Soy studies to determine whether the FDA claim was legitimate. They started with the results from 46 different studies cited by the FDA in its decision to reconsider Soy’s status, and performed a massive data mining operation combining their numbers and analysing the results.

What they found

The results of the U. of T. analysis showed that the findings on Soy remained consistent over the period from 1999 to the mid 20-teens.

“At no time since the original claim for Soy as a reducer of serum cholesterol has its ability been in question,” says Jenkins. “It’s been consistent since 1999. The data have not changed.”

“Sometimes you see a regression to the mean, where analyses with small studies produce big effects that diminish over time as sample sizes increase and results get more precise,” notes Dr. John Sievenpiper, a Co-author of the study. “We saw that with fish oil, for example. But in [Soy’s] case nothing has changed.”

The takeaway

“These data strongly support the rationale behind the original FDA heart health claim for soy,” says Jenkins. “And it’s important to note that while the reduction in cholesterol was less than five percent, if you put that together with other plant-based foods in a portfolio, you get a much stronger effect.”

Jenkins helped develop such a dietary portfolio that includes Nuts, Plant-based Protein, Viscous Fibre and Plant Sterols, which together can lower risk factors for heart disease by up to 30 per cent.

My take

Here’s a prime example of how false logic and shaky science can lead administrators to incorrect conclusions. It happens all the time when folks who are not properly trained or equipped to analyse data take on such tasks themselves rather than leaving the science to the scientists, and taking their advice on experimental outcomes.

I agree wholeheartedly with Jenkins when he observes: “It’s disheartening that the FDA has focused on soy,” says Jenkins. “We see similar data for other foods in the portfolio. If you knock out one leg of that stool, then the others could be up for grabs, right when concerns about health and the environment are bringing Plant-based eating into the mainstream.

“We’re moving into an age of Plant-based Protein, and it would be a shame to see that shift undermined. Plant-based food producers, industry and retailers need all the help they can get, to make their products accessible.”

~ Maggie J.