Australian research shows that long-term consumption of soy products can dramatically reduce the risk of ischemic stroke.
The study, published in Neuroepidemiology, looked at the soy consumption of patients who had suffered a stroke in Southern China.
People who consumed at least 50g of soy products a week reduced their risk of stroke. Those who ate between 50g-300g of soy products had a greater drop still, while those consuming 300g or more a week had the most health benefits, it was found.
Colin Binns, Professor of Public Health, at the Curtin University of Technology research, was part of the research team which included academics from Curtin's School of Public Health, the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) and three hospitals in Southern China.
As stroke is a major public health problem worldwide, Professor Binns believes that the study could have important international outcomes.
"Stroke kills about five million people a year as well as causing considerable disability so these research findings will have long range health and financial consequences for individuals and governments," he said.
"This research shows that long-term consumption of soy products can dramatically reduce the risk of ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, accounting for 70 per cent of all strokes that occur.
"We found that soybean and soy milk had the biggest benefit on stroke reduction over products like tofu, though consuming any one of these products will be beneficial."
The research was conducted in 2007-08 in Southern China where there was a large, fairly homogenous population that had similar diets and lifestyles and a relatively high stroke rate.
Professor Binns said that though the research was undertaken in China the findings were relevant for Australians.
"Even though the study was carried out in Southern China, we believe that eating soy products will have the same effect on Western diets," he said.
"We would suggest that people incorporate soy products into their diet, even if it is through making small changes such as using soy milk rather than normal milk."
This same group of researchers had previously found a link to a reduction of stroke risk and consuming green tea.