Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Isoflavones are a type of plant estrogen with significant health benefits, found primarily in soybeans but also in red clover. Nowadays the subject of much research, they are known to play a significant role in easing menopausal symptoms, protecting against prostate problems, promoting bone density and reducing the risk of heart disease. The most beneficial isoflavones are genistein and daidzein.

Soybeans and soy products are the most efficient dietary source. Tempeh and tofu, of course, are among the readily available soy products; every health food store and many conventional groceries stores stock both. Once again, the importance of diet to health, and specifically lower levels of cholesterol in the body, raises its head and speaks. Listen to it.

Isoflavones and Heart Health

Isoflavones seem to reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease several ways: in helping maintain vascular elasticity, in inhibiting the growth of plaque in arteries, and in helping blood circulation.

The antioxidant properties in isoflavones help curb LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, from accumulating in the arteries, slowing blood flow and weakening the heart. Specifically, the isoflavone genistein restricts the cells that cause plaque from growing. This helps reduce the risk of arteriosclerosis, which in turn—in reduced risk of blood clots—reduces the likelihood of stroke (blood clot to the brain) and heart attack (blood clot to the heart).

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