If you wrestle with hypertension, you may want to stash more soy foods in your grocery cart. That’s because folding soy into your diet may dial down high blood pressure, according to a recent Journal of the American College of Cardiology study.
Researchers who analyzed diet surveys from 5,000-plus black and white adults, ages 18 to 30, gathered at year 20 of a National Institutes of Health-funded heart study, found those who consumed more than 2.5 mg of isoflavones daily had a systolic (top number) blood pressure 5.5 mmHg lower, on average, than those who consumed less than .33 mg daily.
Soy contains isoflavones, plant-based hormones thought to spike production of nitric-oxide-making enzymes. Nitric oxide is a compound that widens blood vessels, thereby easing pressure of blood against vessel walls.
While the results apply to the general population, the study findings are especially positive for African Americans, said lead study author Safiya Richardson, MD, in a statement, adding, “Our study is the first to show a benefit in African Americans, who have a higher incidence of high blood pressure, with an earlier onset, and more severe organ damage.”
If your blood pressure is stubbornly climbing, consider adding soy to your regular diet, by trying:
- Unsalted soy nuts, or roasted soybeans (130 mg of isoflavones per 100 g; one-half cup is about 86 g)
- Edamame, shelled or in-shell soybeans (47 mg of isoflavones per one-half cup)
- Tofu in your stir-fry (25 mg of isoflavones per 3-ounce chunk)
- Soy milk (22 mg of isoflavones per 8-ounce glass)
You might also opt for soy burgers over beef, and slip more green tea and unsalted peanuts, both also isoflavone-rich, into your days. Other blood-pressure-lowering foods include raisins and even chocolate.