Dietary inclusion of whole soy foods results in significant reductions in clinical risk factors for osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease in normal postmenopausal women

Menopause. Sep-Oct 2001;8(5):384-92. doi: 10.1097/00042192-200109000-00015.


Objective: To determine the effects of dietary inclusion of soy foods on clinical markers for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and osteoporosis in normal postmenopausal women.

Design: This was a single open-group prospective clinical intervention. Forty-two normal postmenopausal women consumed three daily servings for 12 consecutive weeks of whole soy foods containing approximately 60 mg/d of isoflavones. Blood and urine specimens were obtained at baseline and after 12 weeks of dietary intervention.

Results: Serum and urine levels of individual and total isoflavones increased significantly (7-19 fold, p < 0.001) from baseline. A significant increase (9.3%, p < 0.05) in the mean lag-time of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol oxidation was seen and was positively correlated with serum phytoestrogens (p < 0.05). Significant increases were found in mean levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLc) (3.7%, p < 0.05) and serum osteocalcin (10.2%, p < 0.025). Significant decreases were observed in total cholesterol:HDLc ratios (5.5%, p < 0.006) and mean urinary N-telopeptide excretion (13.9%, p < 0.02). Urinary excretion of total isoflavones was negatively correlated with very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol:HDLc ratios (p < 0.04). No significant changes from baseline in HDLc peroxidation, total cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, bone-specific alkaline phosphatase, follicle-stimulating hormone, or estradiol levels were observed.

Conclusions: Dietary inclusion of whole soy foods containing 60 mg/d of isoflavones results in significant serum levels of phytoestrogens and reductions in several key clinical risk factors for CVD and osteoporosis in normal postmenopausal women. Long-term, placebo-controlled clinical trials are needed to evaluate the effect of phytoestrogens on the clinical endpoints of CVD and osteoporosis in this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Food*
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones / pharmacology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / epidemiology*
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / prevention & control
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Plant Preparations
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal
  • Isoflavones
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Plant Preparations