Dietary cholesterol is not the same thing as the cholesterol that builds up in the arteries. Cholesterol is important for
hormone production such as testosterone. And if you do not consume enough cholesterol in your diet your body will
make it naturally.
There are numerous health benefits from whey protein. In fact I’ve gone through training phases where I’ve consumed
10 scoops of whey protein powder per day, and every time I’ve had my cholesterol checked it is always below normal
Hard weight training workouts will help keep your arteries clear. And if you live an active lifestyle and keep your
bodyfat levels in check, it is unlikely that you’ll ever have any cholesterol problems. But at the same time it would be
a good idea to have your blood levels checked every year just to make sure everything is ok.
As for soy protein powder I’d suggest that all guys stay away from it. There are numerous studies that show a high soy
intake can increase estrogen levels and this is something that you definitely want to avoid at all costs if your goal is to
become lean and muscular. You are much better off sticking to your whey protein rather then switching to a soy
It’s understandable to be a bit confused about soy’s ability to lower cholesterol. Earlier nutrition studies suggested that eating soy foods — like tofu, edamame, and soy milk — every day in place of other proteins could lower LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol that increases risk of heart attacks. The studies were so impressive that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) noted in 1999 that including 25 grams (g) of soy protein a day in the diet may reduce the risk of heart disease.
But after reviewing 22 soy food studies, the American Heart Association (AHA) concluded in an advisory, published in February 2006 in Circulation, that even if you ate 50 g of soy foods every day, you would lower your LDL cholesterol by only about 3 percent. A summary of the AHA position on soy foods and supplements says that soy foods can be part of a heart-healthy diet, but they’re not recommended as a specific high-cholesterol treatment strategy.
What’s Special About Soy
“Soy foods are unique. They’re a complete vegetable protein and are also a major source of isoflavones,” says Linda Van Horn, PhD, RD, professor in preventive medicine-nutrition at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and spokeswoman for the AHA.
The isoflavones found in soy are a class of phytoestrogens, which means they have properties in the body similar to the female hormone estrogen.
“We’ve known for a long time that estrogens protect women from heart disease. That’s why women don’t catch up with men when it comes to heart disease until after menopause, and that’s one of the reasons hopes were so high that soy foods would lower bad cholesterol,” explains Van Horn.
Studies on Soy and Cholesterol
Here are just a few of the publications that created the confusion:
An analysis of 37 studies published in August 1995 in The New England Journal of Medicine concluded that eating soy protein instead of animal protein significantly decreased total cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol levels.
A review of 11 studies published in September 2007 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that soy isoflavones reduced LDL cholesterol by 3 to 5 percent.
But a clinical trial reported in July 2004 in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that for healthy postmenopausal women, adding 25 g of soy protein to their daily diet for 12 months resulted in no significant change in cholesterol levels.
When it comes to nutrition research, you need to look at the whole forest, not just a few trees. “The problem was that when we looked at all the studies, the results were all over the map. Some studies were not well-controlled, and we just didn’t know then what we know now about isoflavones,” says Van Horn.
Van Horn notes that many of the early studies were financed and supported by the soy industry in America. “I think that’s more a reflection of how important we all thought the research was. I don’t think it influenced the outcomes of the studies — the problem was in the studies themselves,” she says.