Soy Foods and Heart Disease

New research has determined that women who regularly eat soy-based foods lower their risk of heart disease. The AFP reports:
Soybeans -- eaten as tofu, miso soup or Japanese fermented beans known as "natto" -- have a high amount of isoflavones, a natural source of estrogen similar to the female hormone, the study found.


The risk of heart attacks or strokes for a woman who consumed soy at least five times a week was 0.39 compared with 1 for a woman who consumed the least, it said.

The results were even more striking among women past menopause, with the risk falling to 0.25, said Yoshihiko Kokubo, chief doctor of preventive cardiology at Japan's National Cardiovascular Center.
Soy—or edamame—beans are great! Tofu is cool too. But as Dr. Fuhrman points out, soy foods might be tasty, but don’t go overboard. From Eat to live:
Studies have shown soy's beneficial effects on cholesterol and other cardiovascular risk factors. However, there is no reason not to expect the same results from beans of any type--it's merely that more studies have been done on soy than on any other beans…


…I always recommended the consumption of a broad variety of phytochemical-rich foods to maximize one's health. Beans are no exception--try to eat different types of beans, not just soy.
This report is very similar to an earlier one claiming soy nuts can lower blood pressure in postmenopausal women. Nicholas Bakalar of The New York Times was on it:
The first group followed the same diet without soy. The second ate a half-cup a day of soy nuts while reducing protein intake from other sources. When hypertensive women were on the soy diet, they averaged a 9.9 percent decrease in systolic blood pressure (the top number in the reading) and a 6.8 percent decrease in diastolic pressure. Those with normal blood pressure also benefited from the soy diet, reducing systolic and diastolic readings by 5.2 percent and 2.9 percent respectively.
Now, this is a great time to note that not all soy foods are homeruns. As Dr. Fuhrman explains soy nuts aren’t so great. Take a look:
You should be aware that soy nuts, soymilk, and other processed soy products do not retain many of the beneficial compounds and omega-3 fats that are in the natural bean. The more the food is processed, the more the beneficial compounds are destroyed.
Lucky for us—and the women in the AFP report—Dr. Fuhrman still considers tofu and frozen or canned soybeans are a good source of omega-3 fat and calcium.
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peter - October 27, 2011 2:51 PM

I always keep away from non-fermented soy products like tofu, soy milk, or other foods containing the word "soy" in it. Natto, miso, and tempeh are a must for me.

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