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Corn+Soybean Digest

Soy Protein Bonanza

If you're among the one-in-five Americans with high blood pressure - and grow soybeans - you're in for a double-dip treat.

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closed its public comment period and inched closer to putting its final stamp of approval on the health benefits of adding soy protein to a healthy diet. FDA claims there's a link between the consumption of soy protein and a reduction in coronary heart disease.

Officially, the claim states that "25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease." Those are huge and powerful words for growers, especially when they can be used on labels of dozens of soy-containing foods across the country.

You can expect to see that label claim, in some form, on soyfoods such as soy-based beverages, burgers, hot dogs, deli slices, frozen desserts, protein bars, cheese and yogurt alternatives.

Health experts estimate that one in five Americans has high blood cholesterol levels of over 240. That's about 54 million people. If those people would consume the recommended 25 grams of soy protein each day, the demand for soybeans would increase by more than 55 million bushels annually.

What's that cost you? Nothing, except your contribution to the soybean checkoff program. That's where the ball started rolling.

In 1995, the United Soybean Board (USB), wisely using your checkoff dollars, began its investment in the soy health claim debate. USB pumped about $1 million into research to help grease the skids for the claim.

This new soy protein health claim could be one of those rare gifts that occasionally lands in your lap and you can just reap the benefits. Let's hope that's the case and that promotion efforts indeed provide the punch necessary to give soy protein the kick it deserves.

For more on soy's health claim, see "Soyfood Health Claim Nears FDA Okay," page 68.

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