Alzheimer's DementiaElderlyPhytoestrogens

Tofu associated with worse memory

Laboratory studies suggest that phytoestrogens, found in soy products such as tempe and tofu, could protect against cognitive (reasoning) decline. But an earlier study in humans suggested the opposite.

Here’s what researchers from Loughborough University in the UK found.

First, the details.

  • 719 elderly residents of 2 rural sites (Borobudur and Sumedang) and 1 urban site (Jakarta) were studied.
  • Memory was measured using a word-learning test sensitive to dementia.
  • Soy consumption was assessed using a Food Frequency Questionnaire.
  • The analyses were adjusted for the potentially confounding effects of age, sex, education, site, and intake of other foods.

And, the results.

  • High tofu consumption was associated with significantly worse memory.
  • High tempe consumption was significantly related to better memory.
  • For both groups, this was seen particularly in participants over 68 years of age.

The bottom line?
So, eating tofu appears to be a risk factor for low memory function, and this supports the findings of the Honolulu Asia Aging Study.

In contrast, tempe, which contains high levels of phytoestrogens, but (due to fermentation) also has high folate levels, appears to have protect from a decline in memory.

6/28/08 21:22 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.