Skip to main content

Soya products and serum lipids: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

  • Oluwabunmi A. Tokede (a1) (a2), Temilola A. Onabanjo (a3), Alfa Yansane (a2), J. Michael Gaziano (a1) (a2) (a4) and Luc Djoussé (a1) (a2) (a4)...

Soya proteins and isoflavones have been reported to exert beneficial effects on the serum lipid profile. More recently, this claim is being challenged. The objective of this study was to comprehensively examine the effects of soya consumption on the lipid profile using published trials. A detailed literature search was conducted via MEDLINE (from 2004 through February 2014), CENTRAL (The Cochrane Controlled Clinical Trials Register) and for randomised controlled trials assessing the effects of soya on the lipid profile. The primary effect measure was the difference in means of the final measurements between the intervention and control groups. In all, thirty-five studies (fifty comparisons) were included in our analyses. Treatment duration ranged from 4 weeks to 1 year. Intake of soya products resulted in a significant reduction in serum LDL-cholesterol concentration, –4·83 (95 % CI –7·34, –2·31) mg/dl, TAG, –4·92 (95 % CI –7·79, –2·04) mg/dl, and total cholesterol (TC) concentrations, –5·33 (95 % CI –8·35, –2·30) mg/dl. There was also a significant increase in serum HDL-cholesterol concentration, 1·40 (95 % CI 0·58, 2·23) mg/dl. The I 2 statistic ranged from 92 to 99 %, indicating significant heterogeneity. LDL reductions were more marked in hypercholesterolaemic patients, –7·47 (95 % CI –11·79, –3·16) mg/dl, than in healthy subjects, –2·96 (95 % CI –5·28, –0·65) mg/dl. LDL reduction was stronger when whole soya products (soya milk, soyabeans and nuts) were used as the test regimen, –11·06 (95 % CI –15·74, –6·37) mg/dl, as opposed to when ‘processed’ soya extracts, –3·17 (95 % CI –5·75, –0·58) mg/dl, were used. These data are consistent with the beneficial effects of soya proteins on serum LDL, HDL, TAG and TC concentrations. The effect was stronger in hypercholesterolaemic subjects. Whole soya foods appeared to be more beneficial than soya supplementation, whereas isoflavone supplementation had no effects on the lipid profile.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Soya products and serum lipids: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Soya products and serum lipids: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Soya products and serum lipids: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials
      Available formats
Corresponding author
* Corresponding author: O. A. Tokede, fax +617 525 7739, email
Hide All
1. World Health Organization (2002) The World Health Report 2002; Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life. Geneva: WHO.
2. Sirtori, CR, Anderson, JW & Arnoldi, A (2007) Nutritional and nutraceutical considerations for dyslipidemia. Future Med 2, 313339.
3. Katan, MB, Grundy, SM, Jones, P, et al. (2003) Efficacy and safety of plant stanols and sterols in the management of blood cholesterol levels. Mayo Clin Proc 78, 965978.
4. Anderson, JW & Konz, EC (2001) Obesity and disease management: effects of weight loss on comorbid conditions. Obes Res 9, 326S334S.
5. Ashen, MD & Blumenthal, RS (2005) Low HDL cholesterol levels. N Engl J Med 353, 12521260.
6. Ginsberg, HN (1997) Is hypertriglyceridemia a risk factor for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease? A simple question with a complicated answer. Ann Intern Med 126, 912914.
7. Anderson, JW & Bush, HM (2011) Soy protein effects on serum lipoproteins: a quality assessment and meta-analysis of randomized, controlled studies. J Am Coll Nutr 30, 7991.
8. Sacks, FM, Lichtenstein, A, Van Horn, L, et al. (2006) Soy protein, isoflavones, and cardiovascular health: an American Heart Association Science Advisory for professionals from the Nutrition Committee. Circulation 113, 10341044.
9. Ferdowsian, HR & Barnard, ND (2009) Effects of plant-based diets on plasma lipids. Am J Cardiol 104, 947956.
10. Anderson, JW, Johnstone, BM & Cook-Newell, ME (1995) Meta-analysis of the effects of soy protein intake on serum lipids. N Engl J Med 333, 276282.
11. Food & Administration D (1999) Food labeling health claims; soy protein and coronary heart disease. Fed Regist 64, 5769957733.
12. Erdman, JW (2000) Soy protein and cardiovascular disease: a statement for healthcare professionals from the Nutrition Committee of the AHA. Circulation 102, 25552559.
13. Xiao, CW (2008) Health effects of soy protein and isoflavones in humans. J Nutr 138, 1244S1249S.
14. Zhan, S & Ho, SC (2005) Meta-analysis of the effects of soy protein containing isoflavones on the lipid profile. Am J Clin Nutr 81, 397408.
15. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products Nutrition and Allergies (2012) Scientific opinion on the substantiation of a health claim related to isolated soy protein and reduction of blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA Journal 10, 2555.
16. Jadad, AR, Moore, RA, Carroll, D, et al. (1996) Assessing the quality of reports of randomized clinical trials: is blinding necessary? Control Clin Trials 17, 112.
17. Lipid Research Clinics Laboratory Methods Committee (1977) Cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations in serum/plasma pairs. Clin Chem 23, 6063.
18. Higgins, J & Green, S (2010) Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Version 5.0. 2. The Cochrane Collaboration, 2009. Chichester: John Wiley.
19. DerSimonian, R & Laird, N (1986) Meta-analysis in clinical trials. Control Clin Trials 7, 177188.
20. Collaboration RTC (2008) Review Manager (RevMan). 5.0. Copenhagen, The Nordic Cochrane Centre, The Cochrane Collaboration.
21. Engelman, HM, Alekel, DL, Hanson, LN, et al. (2005) Blood lipid and oxidative stress responses to soy protein with isoflavones and phytic acid in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr 81, 590596.
22. Ahn-Jarvis, J, Clinton, SK, Riedl, KM, et al. (2012) Impact of food matrix on isoflavone metabolism and cardiovascular biomarkers in adults with hypercholesterolemia. Food Funct 3, 10511058.
23. Campbell, CG, Brown, BD, Dufner, D, et al. (2006) Effects of soy or milk protein during a high-fat feeding challenge on oxidative stress, inflammation, and lipids in healthy men. Lipids 41, 257265.
24. Hall, WL, Formanuik, NL, Harnpanich, D, et al. (2008) A meal enriched with soy isoflavones increases nitric oxide-mediated vasodilation in healthy postmenopausal women. J Nutr 138, 12881292.
25. Hanwell, HE, Kay, CD, Lampe, JW, et al. (2009) Acute fish oil and soy isoflavone supplementation increase postprandial serum (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids and isoflavones but do not affect triacylglycerols or biomarkers of oxidative stress in overweight and obese hypertriglyceridemic men. J Nutr 139, 11281134.
26. Matthan, NR, Welty, FK, Barrett, PHR, et al. (2004) Dietary hydrogenated fat increases high-density lipoprotein apoA-I catabolism and decreases low-density lipoprotein apoB-100 catabolism in hypercholesterolemic women. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 24, 10921097.
27. Jenkins, DJ, Kendall, CW, Marchie, A, et al. (2005) Direct comparison of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods with a statin in hypercholesterolemic participants. Am J Clin Nutr 81, 380387.
28. Verhoeven, MO, Teerlink, T, Kenemans, P, et al. (2007) Effects of a supplement containing isoflavones and Actaea racemosa L. on asymmetric dimethylarginine, lipids, and C-reactive protein in menopausal women. Fertil Steril 87, 849857.
29. Weidner, C, Krempf, M, Bard, JM, et al. (2008) Cholesterol lowering effect of a soy drink enriched with plant sterols in a French population with moderate hypercholesterolemia. Lipids Health Dis 7, 3542.
30. Rideout, TC, Chan, Y-M, Harding, SV, et al. (2009) Low and moderate-fat plant sterol fortified soymilk in modulation of plasma lipids and cholesterol kinetics in subjects with normal to high cholesterol concentrations: report on two randomized crossover studies. Lipids Health Dis 8, 45.
31. Jenkins, DJ, Kendall, CW, Nguyen, TH, et al. (2008) Effect of plant sterols in combination with other cholesterol-lowering foods. Metabolism 57, 130139.
32. Torres, N, Guevara-Cruz, M, Granados, J, et al. (2009) Reduction of serum lipids by soy protein and soluble fiber is not associated with the ABCG5/G8, apolipoprotein E, and apolipoprotein A1 polymorphisms in a group of hyperlipidemic Mexican subjects. Nutr Res 29, 728735.
33. Lobato, LP, Iakmiu Camargo Pereira, AE, Lazaretti, MM, et al. (2012) Snack bars with high soy protein and isoflavone content for use in diets to control dyslipidaemia. Int J Food Sci Nutr 63, 4958.
34. Hodgson, JM, Puddey, IB, Beilin, LJ, et al. (1998) Supplementation with isoflavonoid phytoestrogens does not alter serum lipid concentrations: a randomized controlled trial in humans. J Nutr 128, 728732.
35. Merz-Demlow, BE, Duncan, AM, Wangen, KE, et al. (2000) Soy isoflavones improve plasma lipids in normocholesterolemic, premenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr 71, 14621469.
36. Wangen, KE, Duncan, AM, Xu, X, et al. (2001) Soy isoflavones improve plasma lipids in normocholesterolemic and mildly hypercholesterolemic postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr 73, 225231.
37. Uesugi, T, Fukui, Y & Yamori, Y (2002) Beneficial effects of soybean isoflavone supplementation on bone metabolism and serum lipids in postmenopausal Japanese women: a four-week study. J Am Coll Nutr 21, 97102.
38. Cheng, SY, Shaw, NS, Tsai, KS, et al. (2004) The hypoglycemic effects of soy isoflavones on postmenopausal women. J Womens Health 13, 10801086.
39. Colacurci, N, Chiantera, A, Fornaro, F, et al. (2005) Effects of soy isoflavones on endothelial function in healthy postmenopausal women. Menopause 12, 299307.
40. Garrido, A, la Maza, D, Pia, M, et al. (2006) Soy isoflavones affect platelet thromboxane A2 receptor density but not plasma lipids in menopausal women. Maturitas 54, 270276.
41. Hall, WL, Vafeiadou, K, Hallund, J, et al. (2006) Soy-isoflavone-enriched foods and markers of lipid and glucose metabolism in postmenopausal women: interactions with genotype and equol production. Am J Clin Nutr 83, 592600.
42. Ho, SC, Chen, YM, Ho, SS, et al. (2007) Soy isoflavone supplementation and fasting serum glucose and lipid profile among postmenopausal Chinese women: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Menopause 14, 905912.
43. Rios, DRA, Rodrigues, ET, Cardoso, APZ, et al. (2008) Lack of effects of isoflavones on the lipid profile of Brazilian postmenopausal women. Nutrition 24, 11531158.
44. Qin, Y, Shu, F, Zeng, Y, et al. (2014) Daidzein supplementation decreases serum triglyceride and uric acid concentrations in hypercholesterolemic adults with the effect on triglycerides being greater in those with the GA compared with the GG genotype of ESR-β RsaI. J Nutr 144, 4954.
45. Bakhtiary, A, Yassin, Z, Hanachi, P, et al. (2012) Effects of soy on metabolic biomarkers of cardiovascular disease in elderly women with metabolic syndrome. Arch Iran Med 15, 462468.
46. Clifton, P, Mano, M, Duchateau, G, et al. (2008) Dose-response effects of different plant sterol sources in fat spreads on serum lipids and C-reactive protein and on the kinetic behavior of serum plant sterols. Eur J Clin Nutr 62, 968977.
47. Meyer, BJ, Larkin, TA, Owen, AJ, et al. (2004) Limited lipid-lowering effects of regular consumption of whole soybean foods. Ann Nutr Metab 48, 6778.
48. Gianazza, E, Lovati, M, Manzoni, C, et al. (1998) Reduction of serum cholesterol by soy proteins: clinical experience and potential molecular mechanisms. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 8, 334340.
49. Tham, DM, Gardner, CD & Haskell, WL (1998) Potential health benefits of dietary phytoestrogens: a review of the clinical, epidemiological, and mechanistic evidence 1. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 83, 22232235.
50. Lichtenstein, AH (1998) Soy protein, isoflavones and cardiovascular disease risk. J Nutr 128, 15891592.
51. Reynolds, K, Chin, A, Lees, KA, et al. (2006) A meta-analysis of the effect of soy protein supplementation on serum lipids. Am J Cardiol 98, 633640.
52. Harland, JI & Haffner, TA (2008) Systematic review, meta-analysis and regression of randomised controlled trials reporting an association between an intake of circa 25g soya protein per day and blood cholesterol. Atherosclerosis 200, 1327.
53. Taku, K, Umegaki, K, Sato, Y, et al. (2007) Soy isoflavones lower serum total and LDL cholesterol in humans: a meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr 85, 11481156.
54. Ho, SC, Woo, JL, Leung, SS, et al. (2000) Intake of soy products is associated with better plasma lipid profiles in the Hong Kong Chinese population. J Nutr 130, 25902593.
55. Nagata, C (2000) Ecological study of the association between soy product intake and mortality from cancer and heart disease in Japan. Int J Epidemiol 29, 832836.
56. Tokede, O, Gaziano, J & Djoussé, L (2011) Effects of cocoa products/dark chocolate on serum lipids: a meta-analysis. Eur J Clin Nutr 65, 879886.
57. Rossouw, JE (1999) Hormone replacement therapy and cardiovascular disease. Curr Opin Lipidol 10, 429434.
58. Weggemans, R & Trautwein, E (2003) Relation between soy-associated isoflavones and LDL and HDL cholesterol concentrations in humans: a meta-analysis. Eur J Clin Nutr 57, 940946.
59. Clarkson, TB & Anthony, MS (1998) Phytoestrogens and coronary heart disease. Baillieres Clin Endocrinol Metab 12, 589604.
60. Arai, Y, Watanabe, S, Kimira, M, et al. (2000) Dietary intakes of flavonols, flavones and isoflavones by Japanese women and the inverse correlation between quercetin intake and plasma LDL cholesterol concentration. J Nutr 130, 22432250.
61. de Kleijn, MJ, van der Schouw, YT, Wilson, PW, et al. (2001) Intake of dietary phytoestrogens is low in postmenopausal women in the United States: the Framingham study (1–4). J Nutr 131, 18261832.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Nutrition
  • ISSN: 0007-1145
  • EISSN: 1475-2662
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed