Background: Although higher habitual soy intake is associated with lower blood pressure (BP) and stroke incidence, clinical trials using soy protein or isoflavones on cardiovascular risks yielded inconsistent results. The discrepancies are hypothesized to be due to the individuals' intestinal bacterial capacity to metabolite isoflavones daidzein into equol. Animal and in vitro studies have revealed that equol has stronger estrogen-like and anti-oxidative activity than isoflavones and possesses natriuretic and vasorelaxant properties which may play an important role in the prevention of hypertension. However, no clinical trial has examined the effect of equol on BP. We thus propose a 24-week randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of natural S-equol on BP and vascular function among equol non-producers. Methods/design: This will be a 6-month double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial among 207 non-equol producing postmenopausal women with prehypertension or early untreated hypertension. Eligible participants who have completed a 2-week run-in will be randomized to either one of the 3 groups: placebo group, low-equol group (10 mg/d) and high equol group (20 mg/d). The outcome measures will be conducted at baseline and at the end of the trial including 24 h ambulatory BP, endothelial function (by ultrasound determined brachial flow mediated dilation), arterial stiffness (by pulse wave analysis) and other cardiovascular risk factors (lipid profile, glycemic control and inflammatory biomarkers). Urinary isoflavones will be tested for compliance assessment. One way analysis of variance will be applied to compare the 6-month changes in ambulatory BP or parameters of vascular function among the 3 treatment groups. Discussion: This study will be performed in community subjects. If the antihypertensive effect of equol is proven, the provision of natural equol to those high risk adults who are unable to produce equol will have enormous public health implications for the primary and secondary prevention of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases on a population basis. The research efforts will also have significant implications for industry in the provision of suitable soy products for the prevention of hypertension and its related complications.
- Blood pressure
- Postmenopausal women
- Vascular function
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Complementary and alternative medicine