A diet rich in black soya beans could help control weight and even prevent diabetes, according to research out today.
The beans could also lower cholesterol levels, a laboratory study on rats found.
Experts in Seoul, South Korea, allowed 32 male rats – split into four groups – to gorge on a fatty diet for 28 days.
Each group was given differing amounts of black soya, with one group receiving none and acting as a control.
Energy from soya
The results showed that those getting 10 per cent of their energy from black soya gained around half as much weight as those in the control group.
Total blood cholesterol also fell by 25 per cent and LDL levels (regarded as “bad” cholesterol) fell by 60 per cent.
The study was published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, with commentary in Chemistry & Industry magazine.
Dr David Bender, sub-dean at the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London, suggested the soya protein may be having an effect on fat metabolism in the liver and adipose (fatty) tissue, reducing the creation of new fatty acids and cholesterol.
Such an effect may explain the Asian tradition of using black soya to treat diabetes, he said.
“The key problem in Type 2 diabetes is impairment of insulin action, mainly as a result of excess abdominal adipose tissue – so loss of weight often improves glycaemic control,” he said.
However, all experts said there was a need for further investigation.
Libby Dowling, care advisor at Diabetes UK, said: “The results of this study are interesting; however more research needs to be done to determine if the results found in rats would be replicated in humans.
“Weight is certainly a key issue when it comes to Type 2 diabetes – 80 per cent of people are overweight when diagnosed with the condition – and keeping the right weight for your height is important in helping to reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
“Black soya beans are low in fat, high in soluble fibre and a good source of protein but they alone will not stop someone from developing diabetes.
“Regular physical activity and a healthy, balanced diet are proven to be very effective in reducing the risk of developing the condition.”
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