Eating tofu and other plant foods that are rich in isoflavones could lower a person’s risk of heart disease, according to new research from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. The study analyzed data gathered from more than 200,000 participants who were all initially free of cancer and heart disease. The participants were asked to complete surveys about their diet every two to four years and their medical data was collected from medical records. The findings showed that after taking into account factors that potentially increase heart disease risk, eating tofu more than once a week was associated with an 18 percent lower risk of heart disease, compared to a 12 percent lower risk for those who ate tofu less than once a month. This link was found to be stronger among the young female participants and in postmenopausal women who were not taking hormones. 

Lead study author Qi Sun, MD, ScD, said the results are in line with statistics from countries such as China and Japan, where individuals traditionally consume a diet high in isoflavones, however, other factors can also influence the development of heart disease, including physical exercise, family history, and lifestyle. “If their diet is packed with unhealthy foods, such as red meat, sugary beverages, and refined carbohydrates, they should switch to healthier alternatives,” Sun said. “Tofu and other isoflavone-rich, plant-based foods are excellent protein sources and alternatives to animal proteins.”