Oxidative damage to lipids may be involved in the etiology of atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease in general, and cancer. The soy isoflavone phytoestrogens, genistein and daidzein, and equol (a daidzein metabolite produced by intestinal microflora) are antioxidants in vitro; equol is a particularly good inhibitor of LDL oxidation and membrane lipid peroxidation.
We sought to investigate the effects of a diet enriched with soy containing isoflavones on in vivo biomarkers of lipid peroxidation and resistance of LDL to oxidation, compared with a diet enriched with soy from which the isoflavones had been extracted.
A randomized, crossover design was used to compare diets enriched with soy that was low or high in isoflavones in 24 subjects. Plasma concentrations of an F2-isoprostane, 8-epi-prostaglandin F2 (8-epi-PGF2), a biomarker of in vivo lipid peroxidation, and resistance of LDL to copper-ion-induced oxidation were determined.
Plasma concentrations of 8-epi-PGF2 were significantly lower after the high-isoflavone dietary treatment than after the low-isoflavone dietary treatment (326 ± 32 and 405 ± 50 ng/L, respectively; P = 0.028) and the lag time for copper-ion-induced LDL oxidation was longer (48 ± 2.4 and 44 ± 1.9 min, respectively; P = 0.017). Lag time for oxidation of unfractionated plasma and plasma concentrations of malondialdehyde, LDL -tocopherol, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and isoflavonoids did not differ significantly between dietary treatments.
Consumption of soy containing naturally occurring amounts of isoflavone phytoestrogens reduced lipid peroxidation in vivo and increased the resistance of LDL to oxidation. This antioxidant action may be significant with regard to risk of atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease in general, and cancer.