URBANA – University of Illinois scientists report that soy protein may significantly reduce fat accumulation and triglycerides in the livers of obese persons. And they’ve discovered why it happens: soy restores partial function of that organ’s key signaling pathway.
“Almost a third of American adults have fatty liver disease, many of them without symptoms. Obesity is a key risk factor for this condition, which can lead to liver failure,” said Hong Chen, a U of I assistant professor of food science and human nutrition.
Fat is metabolized in the liver, and in obese persons, the transport of fat to adipose tissue can slow down to the point that the liver becomes a dumping ground for excess fat, she said.
“When fat accumulates in an organ that’s not supposed to store fat—like the liver, that organ’s vital function can be dangerously compromised,” she noted.
Adding soy protein, in such sources as tofu and soy yogurt, appears to alleviate some of the stress on fatty livers, she said.