udon noodles, with vegetables and tofu Most people are familiar with the heart-healthy benefits of soy. More than 100 studies show that soy protein lowers LDL-cholesterol by 10 to 15 percent and raises HDL-cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), thus reducing heart-disease risk. Studies, such as one from the University of Kentucky, show that adding one to two ounces of soy protein to the daily diet lowers cholesterol by about 10 to 20 percent, reflecting a 20 to 40 percent decrease in heart-disease risk. Soy also lowers oxidized LDL-cholesterol, homocysteine levels, and blood pressure. The Portfolio Diet studied at the University of Toronto and published in JAMA found that diets that included several servings daily of soy, along with other real foods, managed cholesterol (29% decrease) as well as statin drugs, while conventional low-fat diets lowered it by only 8%. While you can’t depend on soy alone to lower heart disease risk, as part of a healthy diet, daily exercise, not smoking, and managing stress, a bit of whole soy foods added to the diet can be a help in preventing and managing heart disease for many people. Of course, always, always check with your physician before making any major changes in dietary intake.   Photo credit: sharyn morrow via Compfight