Fermented soy products: How miso and natto extend life expectancy

Fermented soy products: How miso and natto extend life expectancy

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Are miso and natto the secret of Japanese longevity?

Various types of fermented soy products are consumed in many Asian countries, particularly Japan. The best-known products include miso and natto. According to a recent Japanese study, regular consumption of such foods is associated with a generally reduced risk of premature death.

Researchers at the National Cancer Center in Japan found a link between regular consumption of fermented soy products and a reduced risk of premature death from an illness. The results were recently presented in the well-known specialist journal "The BMJ".

Long-term study with around 100,000 participants

The Japanese research team examined data from a total of 42,750 men and 50,165 women aged 45 to 74 years. The data came from eleven public health centers in Japan. The participants filled out detailed questionnaires about their eating habits, lifestyle and state of health. The deaths were then determined on the basis of housing registers and death certificates over a follow-up period of around 15 years.

Significantly lower risk of death among miso and natto eaters

The researchers found that a higher intake of fermented soy was associated with a ten percent lower risk of all-cause mortality. This effect could only be observed with fermented products. Intake of non-fermented soy products was not associated with a lower risk of death.

Natto seems to be good for the heart

The participants, who mainly consumed natto, were also less at risk of dying from cardiovascular events such as a heart attack. The researchers point out that fermented soy products are richer in fiber, potassium and bioactive components than in the non-fermented state. This could be the reason for the lower risk of dying prematurely.

Similar effects were observed with kimchi

Korean studies also came to similar results. The regular consumption of kimchi (fermented vegetables) is therefore associated with numerous health-promoting effects. Kimchi is said to lower blood pressure, protect against heart diseases and diabetes and promote digestion. (For more information, read: Preventing Obesity and Hypertension with Kimchi.)

Fermented products in Germany?

An increasing number of study results indicate that fermented soy and vegetable products are associated with health benefits. Sauerkraut is probably the best-known fermented product in Germany. Asian dishes such as miso soup are becoming increasingly popular.

Backgrounds still unclear

The researchers point out that these are observational studies. This means that the mechanism responsible that led to the health-promoting effects associated with fermented products has not yet been deciphered. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Association of soy and fermented soy product intake with total and cause specific mortality: prospective cohort study; in: BMJ, 2020,
  • BMJ: Japanese study links fermented soy to lower mortality (published: January 29, 2020),

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