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NMU 160 – Tofu Consumption Strongly Linked to 18% Reduced Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women

Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No 160 (April 23, 2020)

with Dr. James Meschino


Topic: Tofu Consumption Strongly Linked to 18% Reduced Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women

Source: Journal – Circulation (American Heart Association)


Eating tofu and foods that contain higher amounts of isoflavones was associated with an 18% reduced risk of developing coronary heart disease, especially in premenopausal women and postmenopausal women not using hormone replacement therapy. This was the finding of a large study involving researchers at Harvard University Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospitalized data from more than 200,000 subjects who participated in three prospective health and nutrition studies. All the subjects were free from heart disease and cancer at the beginning of the study. Women who ingested as little as one or more servings of tofu per week derived an 18% reduction in heart disease risk-benefit, compared to women who consumed tofu only one or fewer times per month, on average, who realized only a 12% reduction in risk. Interestingly, women who drank soy milk did not derive the same benefit as women consuming tofu. The study was published in the American Heart Association’s Journal – Circulation, in March of 2020.

Tofu is much higher in unique phytonutrients known as isoflavones (such as genistein and daidzein) than soy milk. These isoflavones have been shown to open-up (dilate) coronary arteries and improve blood flow to the heart muscle (a process known as an endothelial function). And the improved endothelial function is linked to a reduced risk of heart attacks and heart disease. Populations that traditionally consume isoflavone-rich diets including tofu, such as China and Japan, have lower heart disease risk compared to populations that follow a largely meat-rich and vegetable-poor diet. We have known this for many years.

I believe this is an important study, as some people think that tofu is a highly processed soy product and should be avoided and others have expressed a belief that only fermented soy products are beneficial to human health. However, studies continue to show that isoflavone-rich soy foods, including tofu, can provide important health benefits.

Soy products, including tofu, have also been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce kidney damage (renal dysfunction). The authors of the current study conclude the following, “Higher intake of isoflavones and tofu was associated with a moderately lower risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD), and in women, the favorable association of tofu was more pronounced in young women or postmenopausal women without hormone use.

I have included the reference for this information in the text below.


1. Ma L, Liu, Ding M, Zong G, Hu FB et al. Isoflavone intake and the risk of coronary heart disease in US men and women. Circulation in 2020. 141,14:1127-1137 (American Heart Association)




Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

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