Soy protein, widely consumed as a meat alternative or in sports nutrition products, could help diabetes patients protect their hearts and kidneys from damage caused by the disease, shows a small trial.
Heart and renal diseases are two major problems in diabetic patients, write the Iranian researchers, with hyperlipidemia one of the main risk factors of cardiovascular complications in diabetes.
A crossover randomized clinical trial was conducted on 14 type 2 diabetes patients (10 men, four women) with nephropathy (diabetes-related kidney damage), who attended an educational university hospital as well as a private kidney disease clinic in Tehran. There were all free of any uncontrolled condition or non-diabetes related renal diseases. The patients were asked to follow a diet typically recommended to control nephropathy including 0.8 g/kg protein, based on 70 per cent animal and 30 per cent vegetable protein) for seven weeks.
After a washout period of four weeks consuming the pre-study diet, subjects were readmitted to repeat the same cycle with a similar diet containing 35 per cent soy protein and 30 per cent vegetable protein.
The patients, with mean weight of 70.6 kg, saw significant reductions in total cholesterol, triglyceride and LDL-cholesterol after following the soy diet, write the researchers in this month's European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
And while there were no significant changes in HDL-cholesterol, and LDL-HDL ratio, the researchers reported a favourable effect on renal function.
"Soy inclusion in the diet can modify the risk factors of heart disease and improve kidney function in these patients," they concluded.
The incidence of type 2 diabetes is climbing rapidly in the US as the population becomes increasingly overweight. More than 17 million Americans have diabetes, an increase of nearly 50 per cent in the past 10 years alone, according to a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report earlier this year, and the incidence of the disease is expected to grow another 165 per cent by 2050 under current trends.