According to a new study from Italy, daily supplementation of genistein, a natural compound found in soy foods, combined with calcium, vitamin D and a low-fat diet, may prevent diabetes and heart disease in post-menopausal women.
In the study of 400 healthy postmenopausal women, those who took daily supplements of 54 micrograms of genistein, 500 milligrams of calcium and 400 IU (international units) of vitamin D had improved control of blood sugar levels compared with their peers who took only calcium and vitamin D. All women ate the same low-fat diet for the duration of the two-year study; the only difference was the addition of genistein.
At this time, it is unclear how genistein may improve blood sugar control. One theory suggests that genistein may increase the activity of enzymes that regulate blood sugar.
Poor control of blood sugar is an indicator of diabetes, a risk factor for heart disease. After menopause, a woman's risk of heart disease quadruples due to the loss of estrogen.
Genistein is a type of isoflavone, a plant compound that mimics the action of estrogen in the body.
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