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Soy good for elderly women

Older women who eat traditional Japanese soy-based foods on a regular basis face lower risks of heart disease, according to a study.

Soybeans - eaten as tofu, miso soup or Japanese fermented beans known as "natto" - have a high amount of isoflavones, a natural source of estrogen similar to the female hormone, the study found.

The risk of heart attacks or strokes for a woman who consumed soy at least five times a week was 0.39 compared with 1 for a woman who consumed the least, the study says.

The results were even more striking among women past menopause, with the risk falling to 0.25.

Estrogen is the most important female hormone that affects women!s menstrual cycles and is essential for the healthy functioning of the female body. Estrogen levels decrease sharply once a woman begins menopause.