Scientific Updates /
Soya improves vascular function and cardiometabolic risk markers in older adults
14 April 2022
Alpro Foundation Supported Research
Prof. Ronald Mensink and Dr Peter Joris, Department of Nutrition and Movement Sciences, Maastricht University
There is a significant body of evidence in favour of plant-based diets for reducing risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Soya foods in particular have been extensively researched and shown to have beneficial effects on heart health outcomes such as lowering cholesterol and improving endothelial function.
This Alpro Foundation supported research investigated the impact of longer-term soya nut consumption on vascular function and other cardiometabolic markers amongst older adults.
This was a randomised, controlled, single-blinded cross-over trial with 23 healthy adults between the ages of 60 and 70 years. Subjects were assigned to an intervention and control diet for a period of 16-weeks separated by an 8-week wash-out period.
Intervention 16-week period: participants were asked to consume a 67g of soya nuts daily (providing 25.5g soya protein and 174mg of isoflavones) in addition to following the Dutch food-based dietary guidelines (wheel of five). Participants were instructed to avoid all other soya products.
Control phase for 16-weeks: participants were asked to adhere to the Dutch food-based dietary guidelines (wheel of five) and avoid all soya products.
Anthropometric measurements (body weight, hip and waist circumference, body fat) and fasting blood samples were collected at baseline and at weeks 8 and 16 of the intervention period. Markers of vascular function were assessed at week 16, specifically:
Endothelial function via flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD)
Microvascular structure via retinal arteriolar calibers (CRAE) (marker of microvascular damage from hypertension)
Arterial stiffness via aortic pulse wave velocity (PWVc-f)
Following the soya nut intervention, several improvements were seen in vascular function and cardiometabolic markers:
Improved brachial artery FMD: increased by 1.49 pp which is associated with a 12% decrease in CVD risk
Improved CRAE measure by 1.42 mm (p=0.058)
Serum total and LDL-cholesterol concentrations lowered by 0.17mmol/L
Systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreased by 4mmHg and 2mmHg respectively
No significant impact was observed for arterial stiffness during this study.
Consumption of soya nuts on a longer-term basis, as part of a healthy diet, improved endothelial function and lowered blood pressure and LDL-cholesterol. These results suggest potential mechanisms by which soya foods reduce CVD risk in older adults.
Tischmann L, Adam T, Mensink R, et al. Longer-term soy nut consumption improves vascular function and cardiometabolic risk markers in older adults: results of a randomized, controlled cross-over trial. Curr Dev Nutr. 2021;5(Supp2):58. https://doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzab033_058
Key findings of this study – an infographic
Longer-term soya nut consumption improves cerebrovascular function
Soya and heart health
Systematic review shows soya intake is associated with lowering blood pressure in adults