Fans of green tea, tofu and other soy-based products can rejoice. New research has found a key compound in soy-based foods -- isoflavones – may help young adults lower their blood pressure.
What’s more, food scientists said there appears to be a particular benefit for African-Americans who are more prone to high blood pressure, according to research presented at the American College of Cardiology's 61st Annual Scientific Session in Chicago.
"What's unique about this study is that the results are very applicable to the general population,” said lead investigator Safiya Richardson, a medical student at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. “Our results strongly suggest a blood pressure benefit for moderate amounts of dietary isoflavone intake in young black and white adults."
Researchers analyzed health records and dietary habits of 5,115 white and African-American adults – 18 to 30 years old – who were tracked for two decades as part of the federally-funded Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study.
Investigators found young adults who consumed the most soflavones each day (more than 2.5 milligrams) had a significantly lower blood pressure than those who consumed the least (0.33 mg). An 8 ounce glass of soy milk has about 22 mg of isoflavones; 100 grams of roasted soybeans have as much as 130 mg.
Scientists believe isoflavones work by increasing the production of enzymes that create nitric oxide, which helps widen blood vessels -- reducing the pressure created by blood against the vessel walls.
“Based on our results and those of previous studies, we would encourage the average adult to consider including moderate amounts of soy products in a healthy, well-balanced diet to reduce the chances of developing high blood pressure,” Richardson said. “For people with hypertension, it's important that they talk with their doctor about isoflavones as a possible addition to a low sodium DASH diet that could reduce the need for medication."