Estrogens derived from plants appear to offer many of the benefits provided by hormone replacement therapy (HRT) but without the cancer risk associated with estrogen supplements. Naturally occurring estrogens, or phytoestrogens, are found in significant amounts in soybeans, cereals, alfalfa sprouts and other plants. Researchers from Stanford University Medical Center in California review the potential benefits of phytoestrogens in the May issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Several heart protective effects of a soy food rich diet includes a lowering of total cholesterol by 9% and LDL ("bad") cholesterol by 13%. The reductions are even greater for people with very high cholesterol. Phytoestrogens may also interfere with the initial inflammatory process of heart disease. Other benefits of phytoestrogens include a decrease in the number of hot flashes in postmenopausal women, decreased risk of breast cancer and other cancers, and protection against osteoporosis. Treatment with phytoestrogens, unlike estrogen replacement therapy, does not appear to increase the risk of blood clots or breast and uterine cancer, according to the report. Time to add more soy and flax you your diet!
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