A fermented food made from boiled soybeans, which is popular in Asian countries for its ability to protect against heart attacks, has shown promise in preventing the formation of amyloid proteins involved in Alzheimer's disease, say Taiwan researchers.
The study, led by Rita P. Y. Chen has revealed that people in Asia have been eating natto, a vegan food, for more than 1,000 years.
Natto contains an enzyme, nattokinase, which has effects similar to clot-busting drugs used in heart disease.
Nattokinase is sold a dietary supplement to improve the body's circulatory system.
This is the first study on whether nattokinase also can dissolve amyloids-the tangled proteins involved in Alzheimer's disease and several other health problems.
The researchers found that the nattokinase degraded several kinds of amyloid fibrils in the study.
Thus, it was concluded that its possible use in the treatment of amyloid-related diseases.
"Moreover, since natto has been ingested by humans for a long time, it would be worthwhile to carry out an epidemiological study on the rate of occurrence of various amyloid-related diseases in a population regularly consuming natto," the scientists said.
The study is published in a latest issue of ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.