Eating high levels of some soy products – including tofu – may raise the risk of memory loss, research suggests.
The study focused on 719 elderly Indonesians living in urban and rural regions of Java. The researchers found high tofu consumption – at least once a day – was associated with worse memory, particularly among the over-68s. The Loughborough University-led study features in the journal Dementias and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders.
Soy products are a major alternative protein source to meat for many people in the developing world. But soy consumption is also on the increase in the west, where it is often promoted as a “superfood”. Soy products are rich in micronutrients called phytoestrogens, which mimic the impact of the female sex hormone oestrogen. There is some evidence that they may protect the brains of younger and middle-aged people from damage – but their effect on the ageing brain is less clear. The latest study suggests phytoestrogens – in high quantity – may actually heighten the risk of dementia.
Lead researcher Professor Eef Hogervorst said previous research had linked oestrogen therapy to a doubling of dementia risk in the over-65s. She said oestrogens – and probably phytoestrogens – tended to promote growth among cells, not necessarily a good thing in the ageing brain. Alternatively, high doses of oestrogens might promote the damage caused to cells by particles known as free radicals.
A third theory is that damage is caused not by the tofu, but by formaldehyde, which is sometimes used in Indonesia as a preservative. – bbc
Test good clean organic tofu vs the contaminated stuff, then if this is true, I’ll stop eating so much of it.