How to live longer: Four foods that can lower risk of early death

  • A study in Japan involving more than 90,000 people has suggested that regularly eating soy products can help you live longer.
  • These products include traditional Japanese food called natto as well as fermented soybeans, miso, and tofu.
  • According to study authors, a daily intake of fermented soy products showed a lowered mortality risk in both men and women.

Soy products are widely consumed in Asian countries and are also starting to grow in popularity in the West.

New research in Japan has found that frequently eating soy products such as natto, fermented soybeans, miso, and tofu could help you live longer.

The study looked into the diets and overall health of more than 90,000 Japanese people aged 45 to 74 to assess the specific effects of these foods on their health.

Although the authors admitted that they did not find a link between soy product consumption to early death from any cause, they found that those who regularly ate fermented soy products such as natto and miso benefitted from a lower risk of mortality from any cause.

Findings revealed that men who ate at least 50.2g a day of fermented soy had 10% lower chances of dying in the 14.8 years that followed compared with those who had the smallest quantity intake. Women who had at least 46.6g intake per day had the same benefits.

A daily intake of 26.2g of natto alone in men led to 24% decreased risks of heart diseases and 21% lower in women.

Results remained the same even with a high vegetable intake which usually accompanies larger portions of natto, the traditional Japanese food made from soybeans.  

In a related study on 6,000 households in Japan, it found that adding soy products in their diet was associated with a lowered risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases and stomach cancer.

The link, according to the researchers, may be due to the high fiber and potassium content in fermented soy products, which also have bioactive components.

Soybeans also contain isoflavones, natural plant compounds that have been found in other studies to dramatically reduce both total and LDL cholesterol.

Other studies have also shown that because of the antioxidant properties found in isoflavones, it has a positive impact on various diseases caused by oxidative stress.

Tempeh, a traditional Indonesian soy product made through a controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a compact cake form.

Tempeh has also been shown to have a range of health benefits. It is a rich source of calcium, thus promoting bone health.


Study authors, however, urge caution in interpreting their findings due to various unmeasured factors that could have influenced the results. For this, further studies are needed in order to establish cause and effect.



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