A new study that claims soy protein can help keep the heart healthy has received support from U.S. and Japanese health officials. Research from two U.S. universities and Japan's National Institute of Health and Nutrition confirmed findings on the health benefits of soy from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to the FDA study, soy protein was shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood by up to 14%.

A study from Harvard University's Dr. Walter Willett, which appeared in the March edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, backed the FDA's findings. Findings from the Japanese researchers, as well as a second study from Dr. Alice Lichtenstein of Tufts University, appear in the April edition of the same journal and also support the FDA's claims.

Francene Steinberg, from the University of California at Davis, said, "The cholesterol-lowering effect of soy is directly related to soy protein and other soy components, and not only to its low saturated fat content." Steinberg, who also contributed to the April edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, added, "The science has not explained the exact mechanism by which soy improves cholesterol, but there is a clear benefit of including soy protein in a healthy diet."