According to a study published in 2007, soy products can substantially improve cognitive performance among postmenopausal women. Over the last five years, many people have accepted that claim at face value. However, a more recent study sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health has shown that may not be the case.
Dr. Victor Henderson, a professor of health research at Stanford, led the recent study. Henderson concluded that soy products provide no benefit to cognitive performance to this demographic whatsoever.
The study was published in Neurology. Henderson and his team followed over 300 women aged 45-92. Each subject was either given soy protein or milk protein every day. The women were given a variety of tests to follow their cognitive abilities at beginning of the study and its conclusion two and a half years later. The test focused primarily on assessing the subjects’ memories.
The study found that there was no difference in performance between the two groups in the study. However, a second analysis was conducted, which found the women taking daily doses of soy proteins performed better at the end of the study.
Despite the conclusion drawn at the end of the study, Henderson maintained his stance. He said that if soy products helped improve cognitive performance, the study would have indicated that with the initial analysis.
The results of this study contradicted previous studies which suggested that soy products helped with decision-making and planning. Some experts want additional research to be conducted to assess the accuracy of Henderson’s findings.
[box type=”important”]Henderson does not want to discourage women from consuming soy products. He said that the study didn’t show that soy adversely impacted thinking abilities. He just wanted to emphasize that women shouldn’t expect their cognitive skills to improve after adding soy to their diets.[/box]
While the results surprised some experts,Â Pauline Maki, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois said that the results are in line with previous findings. She said that it is important for postmenopausal women to realize that eating soy doesn’t seem to provide any benefits to memory and executive decision-making.Â Maki did say that other aspects are still being considered.
Soy is reported to help mitigate the risks of depression and can help women feel more energetic. She said that women should be open to the possibility of soy benefits, but not to get their hopes up that it will help improve their thinking abilities.