A study by US scientists suggests that a soya based drink a day may help postmenopausal women to reduce fat, particularly the fat that accumulates on the stomach.
Abdominal fat is particularly bad for health. It raises the risk of heart attacks and diabetes. Soya may also help women cut risk of cardiovascular disease or diabetes, the study suggests.
The scientists looked at the effect of 'soya-a' vegetable protein supplements on the health of 15 women who had gone through menopause. They asked nine of the women to drink a 120-calorie soya shake a day, while six were given a dummy shake.
After three months, there was little difference in weight between the two groups. However, scans showed a big difference in the amount of fat the women were carrying around the waist, reported the online edition of Daily Mail.
While those on the soya shakes had lost abdominal fat during the course of the study, the other women had put it on.
Writing in the journal Fertility and Sterility, the researchers said the finding would help in improving the health of women who often put on extra fat after menopause.
Women often experience weight gain after menopause and the scientists claimed their trial suggests a new dietary option for the prevention of this weight gain.
The shakes contained more soya than people would normally eat in their diet and supplements would be needed to get the same effect at home, David Christie, of the University of Alabama in Birmingham said.
"This was a very small trial with very small numbers," he added. "If it were to hold up in larger numbers it could have much broader implications in terms of recommending soya to postmenopausal women."