A new study published in the Journal of Food Science examined the role of tomatoes and soy in cardiovascular health (July 14, 2015). Male mice were fed either a control diet, a Western diet (WD) or a WD with 10 percent tomato powder (TP), 2 percent soy germ (SG) or the combination, for four weeks. WD-fed animals had greater liver and adipose weights, plasma cholesterol and serum amyloid A, hepatic lipids, and atherosclerosis than the control-fed animals. TP and SG did not decrease atherosclerosis sections of the aortic root, aortic arch and descending aorta. The TP diets further increased plasma cholesterol, but also led to increased expression of the Abcg5/8 transporters involved in cholesterol efflux. Addition of SG alone to the WD attenuated WD-induced increases in plasma cholesterol, liver lipids and gonadal adipose weight. The results of this study do not support the use of either TP or SG for reduction of atherosclerosis, but suggest some beneficial effects of SG on lipid metabolism in this model of cardiovascular disease.
This study shows promise for soy in the use of heart-healthy foods, given its impact on lipid metabolism. Soy is used in several foods and beverages, including vegetarian dishes such as veggie burgers, protein-rich snacks and more.