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June 2024
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“Whey”ing In on the Soy/Whey Debate

Study Says Protein Is “Whey” Good For Heart Health

Whey protein supplementing improves heart health by increasing blood flow, study concludes.

Whey protein supplementing improves heart health by increasing blood flow, study concludes.

In the debate over which protein source is better for you – soy or whey – most natural health advocates wouldn’t hesitate for a moment:  Whey, they say, pooh-poohing soy all the way.

As documented here, I feel no need to censure soy, as it has an array of heart healthy benefits, particularly for women.  But I’m also no respecter of non-meat protein sources either, meaning that I don’t advocate one over the other:  soy and whey both have their strong points. The latest study on the heart-healthy benefits of whey illustrates this.

When most people think of whey and soy, they think of how it’s going to fuel their muscles after hitting the gym.  But in the study conducted by University of Connecticut researchers, they wanted to know how whey fueled the most important of muscles:  the heart.

Prognosis?  Positive.

Quite positive, in fact.  After just two weeks of 20 healthy men and women supplementing with five grams of whey protein, they found that their blood flow improved for everyone!

The measure in which they assessed blood flow was through something called flow-mediated dilation, FMD for short.  Flow-mediation dilation testing assesses how effectively blood is flowing to and from the heart by analyzing the endothelium, or the inner lining of the blood vessels.  FMD is considered to be the first line of defense in determining whether or not someone’s at risk for atherosclerosis, or a hardening of the arteries.  It’s also considered to be a precursor to heart disease.

The study is published in Nutrition Journal.

As noted by, Frost & Sullivan (a market research organization with offices throughout the world) says that four supplements dominate the heart-health supplement market:  beta-glucan, omega-3s, soy and phytosterols.  If further investigation into the heart-health benefits of whey indicate it benefits people with deteriorating health (those who have flow-mediated dysfunction, for example) that’s all the better for heart-health conscious consumers.  It stimulates competition, and competition stimulates growth.

Capitalism at it’s finest.

So when it comes right down to it, you have to “whey” its pluses and minuses.  Soy has its negatives, but so does whey, as past studies have linked it to things like osteoporosis, kidney stones, even organ damage (when consumed in excess, which isn’t difficult to do, as many whey protein supplement serving size suggestions are “whey” too high).

For heart health, though, you can’t go wrong with either soy or whey.  The participants in this study consumed just five grams of whey per day for 20 days, and saw improvement in blood flow.  And while there has been question as to just how effective soy is in heart health and cholesterol lowering, there are a number of studies out there that indicate it is, in fact, heart healthy (so long as the soy isn’t genetically modified).

Anyway you slice it, whey and soy are ultimately a wash.  They’re both great options.  Keep it in moderation and your heart will thank you.


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