Observational studies have indicated that soya food consumption is inversely associated with blood pressure (BP). Evidence from randomised controlled trials (RCT) on the BP-lowering effects of soya protein intake is inconclusive. We aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of soya protein intake in lowering BP. The PubMed database was searched for published RCT in the English language through to April 2010, which compared a soya protein diet with a control diet. We conducted a random-effects meta-analysis to examine the effects of soya protein on BP. Subgroup and meta-regression analyses were performed to explore possible explanations for heterogeneity among trials. Meta-analyses of twenty-seven RCT showed a mean decrease of 2·21 mmHg (95 % CI − 4·10, − 0·33; P = 0·021) for systolic BP (SBP) and 1·44 mmHg (95 % CI − 2·56, − 0·31; P = 0·012) for diastolic BP (DBP), comparing the participants in the soya protein group with those in the control group. Soya protein consumption significantly reduced SBP and DBP in both hypertensive and normotensive subjects, and the reductions were markedly greater in hypertensive subjects. Significant and greater BP reductions were also observed in trials using carbohydrate, but not milk products, as the control diet. Meta-regression analyses further revealed a significantly inverse association between pre-treatment BP and the level of BP reductions. In conclusion, soya protein intake, compared with a control diet, significantly reduces both SBP and DBP, but the BP reductions are related to pre-treatment BP levels of subjects and the type of control diet used as comparison.
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