Fatty liver disease, the detrimental build-up of fat in liver cells, affects almost one third of Americans, and is often linked with obesity and high triglycerides. While it may not cause symptoms, fatty liver can contribute to liver damage. The only reliable way to address it is to lose weight and lower your triglycerides, if they’re elevated. New research from the University of Illinois suggests that whole soy protein such as tofu can significantly reduce fat accumulation in the liver and lower triglycerides, at least in rats. For the study, researchers assigned both lean and obese rats to eat a diet containing casein, a milk-based protein, or soy protein for 17 weeks. The soy protein diet had no effect on the lean rats, but researchers found that triglycerides fell 20 percent and overall fat accumulation in the liver decreased in obese rats that ate tofu-like meals. Compounds in soy appear to partially restore the function of a key signaling pathway involved in fat metabolism in the liver. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in April 2012.