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Researchers used meta-analysis to combine data from 16 previous clinical trials to study the effects of soy isoflavone supplements on body weight and glucose regulation (how the body metabolizes food to create the blood sugar that fuels cells). All of the study participants were postmenopausal women, and data from these 16 trials were combined to study the effects of soy isoflavones on
The study revealed significant reductions in body weight, fasting glucose, and fasting insulin levels in women taking isoflavone supplements compared with women in the placebo (no supplement) groups. Lower doses of isoflavones appeared to reduce body weight and blood glucose levels the most, and isoflavones reduced body weight and insulin levels more effectively in normal-weight women compared with obese women.
Though a healthier body weight and better glucose regulation are associated with reduced heart disease risk, it is important to note that the changes were small. The average weight loss in the isoflavone groups amounted to around one pound, and blood glucose levels decreased an average of only 0.2 mg/dL
The researchers noted that well-designed clinical trials are needed to further clarify what dose of isoflavones, taken over what duration of time, is most effective for people with different heart disease and diabetes risk factors. Still, this study supports that for some people, isoflavone supplements may provide modest heart disease risk-reduction benefits. Before adding isoflavones into your self-care plan, consider:
(In press: Nutr 2012, doi:10.1016/j.nut.2012.03.019; USDA Database for the Isoflavone Content of Selected Foods, Release 2.0; September 2008. Available: www.ars.usda.gov/services/docs.htm?docid=6382)