July 2013

Garcinia and Soy Compared For Weight Loss and Cholesterol Benefits

Supplementation with Garcinia cambogia extract (GCE) may lack effect on weight loss and total cholesterol in overweight people, a study reports.

Garcinia is a small, purple fruit native to India and Southeast Asia. It is used as a weight loss aid, but the evidence is inconclusive. The rind has been used for centuries throughout Southeast Asia as a food preservative, flavoring agent, and a treatment for stomach gas. According to Indian folk tradition, Garcinia is used for rheumatism and bowel complaints. Regular consumption of garcinia as a food or tonic is thought to be safe. These products have been used routinely in the coastal areas of South Asia for centuries and continue to be consumed in large amounts. There is some early evidence for the use of garcinia in exercise performance and weight loss, although results are mixed.

In the current study, the researchers compared the potential weight loss and cholesterol-lowering benefits of GCE to those of Glycine max leaves extract (EGML). Glycine max is the scientific name for soy or soybean. Soy, a subtropical plant native to southeastern Asia, is a member of the pea family and has been a dietary staple in Asian countries for at least 5,000 years.

A total of 86 overweight men and women between the ages of 20-50 were randomly assigned to three groups. One group received tablets providing two grams of EGML daily, the second group received tablets providing two grams of GCE daily, and the third group received a placebo containing two grams of starch daily. Supplementation lasted for 10 weeks. At the beginning and end of the study, the researchers collected data on body composition, cholesterol levels, and diet.

The results suggested that EGML and GCE supplementation appeared to lack effects on weight loss or body fat percentage. Total cholesterol appeared to be reduced in the EGML group after 10 weeks, compared to the placebo group. EGML and GCE lacked effect on triglycerides and cholesterol levels. However, the EGML group appeared to have higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol when compared to placebo.

The researchers concluded that 10 weeks of supplementation with EGML and GCE may lack weight loss and cholesterol-lowering benefits. However, they stated that EGML may help increase levels of good cholesterol, which has been linked to better heart health. More research is needed before firm conclusions can be made.

Numerous integrative therapies have been evaluated for their possible weight loss benefits. There is good scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of hydroxycitric acid, mango seed fiber, and whey protein for this purpose.

For more information about garcinia, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Kim JE, Jeon SM, Park KH, et al. Does Glycine max leaves or Garcinia Cambogia promote weight-loss or lower plasma cholesterol in overweight individuals: a randomized control trial. Nutr J. 2011 Sep 21;10:94. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-10-94.
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2024 NatMed. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. NatMed is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.