Including isoflavone-rich foods such as tofu in one’s regular diet can protect the heart, as a study revealed that frequent consumption of this product can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 18%.
Eating foods that are high in isoflavones – substances that act similarly to estrogens – such as tofu or soy, can protect heart health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease, especially in young women, or in postmenopausal women who aren’t taking hormone replacement therapy, according to new research including three prospective health and nutrition studies. The research was published in Circulation.
The group of researchers, who belong to the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (USA), analyzed the data of more than 200,000 people (men and women) who participated in these studies, and all of whom didn’t suffer from coronary heart disease and cancer when the study began.
Data on the foods they ate was obtained through surveys conducted every two or four years, and data on heart disease was obtained through medical records, while deaths related to heart disease were taken from death certificates.
The analysis revealed that eating tofu – a food especially high in isoflavones – at least once a week was associated with an 18% lower risk of heart disease, while those who ate tofu less than once a month had a 12% lower risk. This association was observed especially in women who hadn’t yet reached menopause, and in postmenopausal women who didn’t take hormones.
Preventing heart disease with a healthy diet
Qi Sun, the lead author of the study, explained that the population in countries where diet is usually high in isoflavones, such as Japan and China, has a lower heart risk compared to people in countries that eat a diet high in meat and vegetables.
Eating tofu – a food especially rich in isoflavones – at least once a week was associated with an 18% lower risk of heart disease
Sun also warned that it’s necessary to continue researching the association between the potential benefits of isoflavones and heart health because there are numerous factors that can influence it; from genetics, to physical exercise and other lifestyle habits, and said as an example that young and physically active women tend to eat a healthier diet, which includes foods such as tofu. However, he encourages all people with risk factors for developing heart conditions to take special care of their diet in order to prevent these ailments.
Qi Sun stated that other foods with properties similar to tofu as a source of isoflavones are edamame, chickpeas, pistachios, beans, peanuts, or walnuts. However, he pointed out that some products such as soy milk didn’t show any benefits, since it’s frequently highly processed and has added sugars.
Date: March 23rd, 2020
By: Eva Salabert
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