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As a next step the team looked at the amount needed to be consumed to achieve the longevity benefits. Here the researchers noted that men who ate at least 50.2 grams of fermented soy products were 10 percent less at risk of dying within an average of 14.8 years. This was comparable with men who ate little fermented soy products. For women the benefits from soy products could be achieved by 46.6 grams of these fermented soy products each day, wrote the researchers. Natto is a traditional Japanese food where soy is fermented with Bacilus subtilis and it is a popular breakfast across the nation. This study looked at health benefits of natto alone and found that eating 26.2 grams of natto per day reduced the risk of deaths by 24 percent in men and 21 percent in women.
The researchers wrote that the possible explanation behind the benefits offered by these fermented soy products could be their high fibre content. They added that these foods also contain high amounts of potassium which could be beneficial in diet. Soy products, they wrote, are rich in “isoflavone and fibre” which have properties to prevent onset of cancers, heart disease, high cholesterol and weight gain, wrote the researchers. They explained that in fermented soy products whole soy breans are used. This prevents loss of essential nutrients which might be the case with non-fermented soy products. Further, fermentation of the soy beans also produces bioactive compounds such as polyamines and nattokinase (seen in natto), they wrote. They called for more studies to understand the exact reason why these foods could benefit by reducing mortality risks.
They warned that the reduction in mortality risk was not seen with “total soy product” consumption. This meant that fermented soy product consumption provide mortality benefits that were not seen with non fermented soy products. They wrote in conclusion, “A significant association between intake of total soy products and all cause mortality was not, however, observed. The findings should be interpreted with caution because the significant association of fermented soy products might be attenuated by unadjusted residual confounding.”
One of the authors of the study, Dr Norie Sawada of the National Cancer Centre in Japan, said that consuming fermented soy products is recommended to reduce the cardiovascular disease risk across the world. Journal reference:
Association of soy and fermented soy product intake with total and cause specific mortality: prospective cohort study BMJ 2020; 368 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m34 (Published 29 January 2020) BMJ 2020;368:m34, https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m34
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