In a new study, researchers found that a higher intake of fermented soy products, such as miso and natto, is linked to a lower risk of death.
The research was conducted by a team from Japan.
In Asian countries, especially Japan, several types of soy products are widely consumed, such as natto (soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis), miso (soybeans fermented with Aspergillus oryzae), and tofu (soybean curd).
It is, however, still unclear whether different soy products, especially fermented soy products, are associated with specific health effects.
In the study, the team examined the link between several types of soy products and death from any cause (“all-cause mortality”) and from cancer, total cardiovascular disease (heart disease and cerebrovascular disease), respiratory disease, and injury.
They base their findings on 42,750 men and 50,165 women aged 45-74 years who were taking part in a study based on 11 of Japan’s public health center areas.
The researchers found that a higher intake of fermented soy (natto and miso) was linked to a much lower (10%) risk of all-cause mortality, but total soy product intake was not linked to all-cause mortality.
Men and women who ate natto also had a lower risk of cardiovascular mortality than those who did not eat natto, but there was no association between soy intake and cancer-related mortality.
The researchers point out that fermented soy products are richer in fiber, potassium and bioactive components than their non-fermented counterparts, which may help to explain their associations.
However, this is an observational study, so it can’t establish cause, and the researchers cannot rule out the possibility that some of the observed risks may be due to other unmeasured factors.
The study is published in The BMJ.
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